The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its annual progress report on 25th June 2020 which assesses the progress made to reduce emissions over the past year. Territorial emissions have decreased by 30% since 2008 despite growth in the economy of 15%. Consumption emissions, including imported goods and international transport, also decreased by 18%.

For the first time, the Committee produced its recommendations with time frames set for each with all measures designed to help the UK recover from the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recovery plan is fully aligned with the UK’s 2050 net-zero climate target and states that it is absolutely necessary and entirely possible to achieve as long as there is commitment and co-ordination across all government departments.

The report’s primary challenge is that there is a sizeable policy deficit between recent, current, and planned short-term actions and what is needed to achieve the long-term climate targets. This is highlighted by the fact that no sector is prepared to adjust to make the 2°C possible and the widespread delays in key policies including delivery of the National Infrastructure Strategy and Energy White Paper and delays to the Buildings and Heat Strategy.

There is optimism brought by the delay of COP 26 which is sees as the UK’s opportunity to establish a credible and internationally leading position on climate change whilst recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic. The report urges the Government to act courageously as a green recovery is there for the taking, as long as the ambition is high and backed by a well-designed package of policies to drive change across all sectors. The key areas identified are the UK’s most-emitting sectors – surface transport, heavy industry, the built environment, energy, and agriculture.

The publication of the report comes in the same week that many other key groups are submitting their green recovery frameworks to the Government. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling for a £3.8bn pot for de-carbonising social housing, retrofitting of environmental measures in schools whilst they remain closed; improved policy support for onshore wind and the immediate publication of the Energy White Paper and National Infrastructure Strategy.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce the principles of the UK’s Covid-19 recovery plans by the end of the month and will elaborate further on details throughout July. If the Government were to miss this vital opportunity to build the UK economy and infrastructure back to be greener and more efficient this would be squandering the opportunity to deal with both crises hand in hand.

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