In its independent assessment of COP26, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has made a series of key recommendations to the UK government for action at home and internationally. The report published on 2 December on global progress after COP26 points out that the UK has one of the most ambitious 2030 emissions targets in the world, but it does not have all the policies in place to deliver it.
The Committee is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008, advising the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets. It also reports to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
They point to farming which produces 10% of UK emissions, and call on the government to produce a robust plan for reducing them. They also call for action to shift diets away from meat and dairy as well as limiting the rising demand for flying. In the October budget the chancellor halved the tax on domestic flights, which are already far cheaper and more polluting than rail journeys. Air passenger duty was increased by £4 on “ultra-long” flights of more than 5,550 miles, from £87 to £91, but overall, the changes were a tax reduction of £30m a year.
The CCC also said that overseas aid spending should return to 0.7% of GDP “as soon as possible”. The UK’s aid cut to 5% was criticised by developing countries at the Glasgow summit as undermining trust in rich countries to deliver promised funding. The original UN-backed target was enshrined into law in 2015
The UK and other countries also have a duty to act on the Glasgow pledge to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, though the CCC said no fossil fuel subsidies should be classed as efficient. According to a report by BloombergNEF and Bloomberg Philanthropies the UK subsidies fossil fuels by a colossal £12,5bn a year, see: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/20/g20-states-subsidised-fossil-fuels-2015-coal-oil-gas-cliamte-crisis
“The next year is critical for climate action in the UK and internationally,” said John Gummer, the chair of the CCC. “At home, we need to walk the talk and urgently deliver actions in the net zero strategy.
“Globally, the UK must continue to encourage stronger action on climate and insist on rapid emissions reductions and stronger adaptation through all diplomatic channels. The ultimate success of the Glasgow climate pact will be measured in climate risks averted, not words on a page.”
Meanwhile Shell announced yesterday that it had pulled out of the Cambo oilfield exploration west of the Shetlands. Government approval was first given in 2001 but they are under great pressure to reverse the decision and was facing a legal challenge from Greenpeace over its 2001 decision.