Thirteen years of Conservative administrations’ inadequate inching towards Net Zero receive heavy criticism today from independent scientists on the government’s body set up to review progress.

Released today, the Climate Change Comittee’s 2023 report to Parliament accuses ministers of words, not deeds and sending contradictory signals wrapped in mixed rhetoric to investors, energy providers & practitioners.

Inadequate ambition, “mood music” empty of delivery or achievement, and expectations raised without follow-through or implementation, head the scientists’ charge sheet against Conservative ministers and policy makers on the climate.

On energy generation, consumption and conservation, the CCC highlights the Tories’ facing both ways, including:

  • Approving new coal extraction in Cumbria & ambivalence on the Cambo oil field contradict a quintupling of generation targets for solar, and more offshore wind
  • Deputing to regulators & Britain’s privatised grid the task of cutting delays in connecting clean generating capacity
  • Supposedly dropping David Cameron’s ban on new turbines in English counties, while retaining objectors’ powers to stop them

For green industrialists & civil society bodies in the Aldersgate Group,  Ben Westerman, interim executive director noted:

“The message from today’s progress report is clear. The UK government must rapidly scale-up delivery and ambition in its climate policy programme to provide the market signals required to drive decarbonisation in crucial areas of the economy”.

In the past year, investment in the low carbon economy had fallen, Westerman noted..

“To reverse that trend, the UK must accelerate progress to demonstrate its leadership both domestically and internationally.”.b We are now entering a crucial period that will decide if the UK will meet its climate goals and secure the major economic benefits that a thriving low-carbon economy offers.

“Without an urgent focus on delivery, enabling policy measures and financial support to drive investment in the low-carbon industries of the future, the UK risks losing out to growing international competition from the USA and the EU”, said the group’s spokesperson.

Construction standards, and efforts to redress the 25% of UK carbon emissions orginating from the UK built environment drew Westerman’s anger.

“Government needs to legislate for all properties to be Minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) standard C by 2035″, he charged.

For heavy industry, government  must publish a revitalised industrial decarbonisation strategy that provides a blueprint to increase UK plc’s global competitiveness in low-carbon products and industries.

Progressing skills development across all economic sectors to smoothe Net Zero’s pathway and maximise its job creation was a strategic priority still unaddressed in Whitehall, said the Aldersgate Group boss.

Britain Remade founder & campaign director Sam Richards hailed the CCC summary as “a wake-up call for everyone in government”.

“Not delivering the clean energy infrastructure we need to decarbonise our economy means higher bills, for longer, for millions of people across the country”, Richards declared.

“Britain could be a clean energy superpower with an abundance of clean secure domestic energy. But as the Climate Change Committee points out, this cannot be delivered without fundamental reform to our outdated planning system.

“The government should start by dropping the ban on new onshore wind farms in England,” said Richards, “unlocking one of the cheapest forms of energy now available. Onshore wind is extremely popular with 67% of people supporting the installation of new turbines in their local area”.

Ministers should take action to slash from as much as 13 years time needed at present to build new offshore wind farms, said Richards. Erecting a marine park’s turbines took as little as two years.

“Every day the government remains asleep at the wheel is another day condemning people to paying more for their energy bills”, declared the Britain Reformed boss.

Read the CCC’s report here.


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