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Clock is ticking for UK to prove its commitment to carbon targets

Responding to the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) 2018 progress report ClientEarth lawyer Jonathan Church said: “Each June brings a new progress report from the Committee on Climate Change but each year it’s more or less the same story: government must do more, and with greater urgency than ever, if we are to achieve our legally-binding targets at the lowest cost.

“The CCC is clear that we are not on course to meet our targets, even those that we have had many years to plan for, as progress in many sectors has ‘effectively stalled’ in the last five years.

“The CCC identifies a ‘marked failure’ to decarbonise important sectors of the economy. If government inaction continues, the success of the Climate Change Act – and the UK’s claim to climate leadership – will be put at risk.”

Last year’s Clean Growth Strategy failed to meet expectations, and remains more a statement of ambition than a concrete plan to meet our emissions targets.

Today’s CCC report states that more than a quarter of UK greenhouse gas emissions came from the transport sector last year, the most from any sector in the UK economy. Policies like phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles must be delivered in full, at the very least. We need new, ambitious policies to meet our carbon targets.

Church added: “Fundamentally, a complete change of approach is needed – and fast. The government needs to understand that addressing climate change is not something that can be done by only some government departments just some of the time.

“Despite strong public support for action on climate change, another year passes without the government grasping the nettle. Meanwhile, the risks of climate change – from extreme weather events to sea level rises and the loss of biodiversity – continue to grow”.

In 2016, ClientEarth highlighted a significant policy gap; the difference between the emissions reductions needed to hit the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, and the actual reductions current policies will produce. Two years on, we have seen little real progress. A step change is needed from government to breathe new life into the Climate Change Act, or we risk missing our legally binding targets.

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Francois Hurtaud