This is a letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, and Baroness Brown, Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, to new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The letter provides the Committee’s assessment of the priorities for the new Government to reduce UK emissions and prepare for climate change.
Government actions in the coming year will define the UK response to the climate crisis. “As host of next year’s UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, the steps we take in the next 12 months will also have a lasting global impact”, the Chairs write. “In this Parliament, the UK must get on track to delivering Net Zero emissions, and adapt to the climate-related changes we are experiencing.” Prime Minister Johnson responded to the Committee’s letter on 28 January 2020.
2. Key recommendations
Alongside improved climate governance, the Committee’s letter highlighted five key priorities for Government on cutting UK emissions:
- Buildings. An ambitious and properly funded strategy for entirely removing fossil fuels from the UK’s building stock, with action beginning immediately and standards that set a clear path for the longer-term.
- Transport. Rapid progress in the implementation of the manifesto commitment to consult on an earlier phase-out of petrol and diesel cars, ideally by 2030.
- Electricity. Delivering on the manifesto commitment for 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 – and ensuring that any market reforms are complementary to the Net Zero goal.
- Industry. Developing an ongoing mechanism to pay for emissions reductions from industry and an approach to delivering hydrogen and CCS infrastructure, alongside your promised capital support.
- Land use and agriculture. Introducing a world-leading package through the Agriculture and Environment Bills to cut emissions from agriculture and to pay for the 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of annual tree planting promised in the manifesto.
The CCC’s recent assessment of UK action to adapt to climate change concluded that the UK is worryingly unprepared for the changes ahead. The Committee’s letter set out how the Government can act to:
- Reduce flood risk. Delivering on the manifesto commitment to increase flood defence spending by £4 billion, but also enabling 200,000 properties that cannot be protected by defences to install property-level flood barriers.
- Manage the risks from extreme heat. There is no policy to ensure the risk of overheating is reduced in homes, hospitals, schools or care homes. Building Regulations need to be strengthened to make sure adequate natural cooling (not air-conditioning) is built into properties, alongside energy efficiency.
- Reduce the risk of drought. Without further action, water deficits, which are currently negligible, could exceed 3 billion litres per day in the 2050s in England. Water consumption per person needs to fall by 30% to manage this, and supplies need to increase urgently.
- Protect the natural environment. Climate change will exacerbate biodiversity loss in the UK and globally. Delivering on manifesto commitments to create a Nature Climate Fund, increase tree planting and restore peatland will help to improve resilience and reduce emissions from land.