Britain’s progress in tackling climate change is stalling and new strategies and policies are needed to ensure ambitious greenhouse gas emissions cuts continue, the government’s climate advisers said in a report on Thursday. Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions are around 42 percent lower than in 1990, which is around half way towards the government’s legally binding target to slash them by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, the Committee on Climate Change report said. The progress so far has been achieved even though gross domestic product has risen by more than 65 percent since 1990. However, most of the emissions reductions have occurred in the power and waste sectors. Emissions in the transport and building sectors are rising and infrastructure remains vulnerable to severe weather.
“The good news is we have got half way. But the way we have achieved this is almost entirely focused on the power sector,” Matthew Bell, chief executive of the committee, told Reuters. “We cannot extrapolate that to 2050. Power sector emissions have been lowered so much … We won’t get the remaining distance we need if other sectors don’t start contributing,” he said. Earlier this week, Britain’s new climate change minister, Claire Perry, said the government would publish its Clean Growth Plan – a framework for how Britain will reduce emissions in the 2020s and 2030s – after the parliamentary summer recess.
Parliament closes on July 20 and reconvenes on Sept. 5. The plan’s release was originally scheduled for late 2016. The delay has been criticised by investors who are looking for policy certainty. Under current policies, Britain is on track to miss its legally-binding emission reduction targets for the mid-2020s onwards, prompting calls for more action in the heat, buildings, industry, transport and agriculture sectors. The government also needs to present Parliament with detailed measures to address climate risks, such as risks to households and businesses from flooding, so its national adaptation programme can be published early next year, the report said.
Britain has experienced significant political upheaval over the past year after a referendum resulted in the move to leave the European Union. “There is concern Brexit negotiations divert a lot of attention and resources but we also need to think about climate change issues,” Bell added.