Government must ‘move quickly’ on net zero, report finds

The long awaited Net Zero Review has urged the government to ‘move quickly’ on net zero, as it admits the UK is falling behind. 

Led by former Tory MP Chris Skidmore, the report warns that the UK is falling behind other countries who are launching more ambitious policies to address the climate crisis.

It also highlights the huge economic benefits of net zero, with a projected 2% growth in GDP and costs for businesses and individuals cut if climate aims are scaled up, while inaction by ten years could increase the national debt by 23%.  

The 340-page review which landed today, makes 25 recommendations on how the UK’s approach to net zero could be improved and acknowledges how reaching net zero cpuld drastically improve air quality and health. 

Also highlighted is a 2022 Oxford study which revealed that decarbonising could save the world $12 trillion by 2050 compared to continued use of fossil fuels.  

man in white dress shirt and blue denim jeans sitting on white and black solar panel

Chair of the Net Zero Review, Chris Skidmore MP, said: ‘We should be proud of the lead the UK has taken in tackling climate change, having exceeded expectations so far in our race to net zero emissions by 2050. As essential as that is environmentally, it also puts us at an economic advantage globally. 

‘My recommendations are designed to make the most of this historic opportunity, covering the length and breadth of our economy, so that people in every part of the country can reap the benefits of this both in their communities, and in their pockets.’  

The need for a long-term approach to active travel and funding for projects was featured in the report, which highlighted the benefits to air quality, health and the economy – those who walk, wheel or cycle spend an average of 40% more on their local high streets. 

Skidmore also called for a ‘swift delivery’ of a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate from 2024 to support and encouragers consumers to make the switch to electric cars. 

He said it was key that the UK ‘move quickly’ to address skills shortages and inconsistent policies, saying ‘we know that investing in net zero today will be cheaper than delaying, as well as increasing the economic and climate benefits.’  

Government failures on energy efficiency were noted in the report, calling for a mandate on the Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure new homes are energy efficient and low carbon. For non-domestic buildings, the minimum energy efficiency rating should be elevated to EPC B by 2030.  

Labour MP Ed Miliband said the Net Zero Review highlighted the ‘total failure of the government to act with the urgency that the climate crisis demands.’  

Other actions include rapidly accelerating the expansion of renewables so that solar is set to reach 70GW by 2050, implementing a clear roadmap on carbon capture and to form a plan on engaging the public more effectively by the end of this year.  

UK100 CEO, Polly Billington, commended the review for recognising the key role that local authorities can play in achieving net zero. The report said it was essential for government to ‘empower people and places to deliver’ and recommended a reduction in competitive bidding, so it was easier for councils to access local net zero funding.  

Billington said: ‘This independent review confirms what UK100 has been saying for years: local authorities are the key to achieving the UK’s Net Zero goals. 

‘We were delighted to work with Chris Skidmore MP on the review and welcome it, particularly the recommendation to end the disjointed mess of short-term, competitive local authority funding pots. This move would help communities maximise the economic and social benefits of Net Zero while making the most cost-effective use of resources.’  

Photo by Bill Mead


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