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Committee on Climate Change challenges Government: "Now, do it"

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The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have this week published their 2019 Progress Report to Parliament, which covers both progress on meeting carbon budgets, and progress in preparing for climate change. The reports were launched in London on 10 July 2019 to a packed committee room of stakeholders, advisers and government officials.

Committee on Climate Change challenges Government: "Now, do it"

The message from the CCC was clear – current progress in both reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change is inadequate. Key headline messages from the report state:

  • Current policies and plans are insufficient to meet the fourth or fifth carbon budgets (covering 2023-27 and 2028-2032).
  • England is not prepared for the impacts of a 2°C increase in global and UK temperature, let alone a 4°C temperature increase.
  • New policies are urgently needed to meet the targets set to both tackle climate change and prepare for the impacts.

The committee emphasised that the Government had asked the question (how to achieve reductions); had received guidance to achieve reductions (Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming); and responded to evidence on the need to act (enshrining the net-zero target into law). The Government must now take responsibility to implement new policies that can deliver on these targets.

It is important that the UK can demonstrate that we are not only setting ambitious targets, but we are implementing policies that will achieve these targets. This will give credibility to our commitments and identify us as a leader in the global effort to address climate change, particularly important if we are to be successful in our bid for the UK to host the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

The CCC demonstrates that the need for action is clear, and their message to government is simple: Now, do it.

Tackling climate change

Preparing for climate change

Reducing UK emissions report
(Click on image to view report)
Climate change preparation report
(Click on image to view report)
  • The Paris Agreement targets a threshold of well below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C, but current global plans give only a 50% chance of meeting 3°C.
  • The Committee’s Net Zero report offered a compelling analysis of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK effectively to zero by 2050 – and provided evidence that we could meet these new goals at a cost already agreed to Parliament.
  • The government has delivered just one policy action out of 25 recommended by the committee in 2018.
  • The sixth carbon budget (2033-2037) will look to reduce emissions in line with achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
The Government must now back its net-zero emissions target with a coherent national policy package to deliver it.
  • Of the 56 risks and opportunities identified in the UK’s second Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA2), 21 have no formal actions in NAP2.
  • Only a handful of sectors (water supply, road and rail, flood defences and flood risk planning for infrastructure) have plans that consider a minimum of 2°C.
  • 12 of 33 sectors (including aspects of agriculture, the natural environment, health, infrastructure and business) have no plans for long-term climate change at all.
  • None of the 33 priority areas scored well in reducing vulnerability and exposure to climate risk.
The Government needs to be much more ambitious on climate change adaptation to match the growing risks from climate change through strengthened policies.

 

Natural Environment and Agriculture

Agriculture and land use were highlighted by the committee as a key sector where big improvements can be made to mitigate climate change. To date, little progress has been made in emissions reductions within farming and in order to achieve net-zero, efforts need to drastically increase. For example, addressing soil quality and fertility could enhance soil sequestration and have a big impact on meeting the emissions target by 2050, as well as creating a more sustainable future for agricultural production.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive for the CCC said that “the government have an opportunity to use Brexit and the Agriculture Bill to make firm policies for emissions reductions”. Other priorities outlined by the CCC in the reports include a requirement for the development of an effective post-CAP framework; strategies across the UK for 30,000+ hectares/year afforestation; publication of England’s Peatland Strategy; and a requirement for Defra to integrate adaptation systematically into the 25-year Environment Plan goals, and the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) outcomes.

Research by ADAS that supported the CCC report

Research to update the evidence base for indicators of climate related risks and actions in England

Research to update the evidence base for indicators of climate-related risks and actions in England

The ADAS report presents the results of work commissioned by the CCC to update a number of the indicators of and evidence bases on climate-related risks and actions in England.

In total, 35 indicators were assessed across multiple sectors including the built environment, infrastructure, the natural environment, agriculture and forestry, people and health, and business.

Click here to view report

Find out more

ADAS provides specialist advice and strategic evaluation of food chain sustainability, climate change resilience and adaptation policies. For further information on the ADAS report to the CCC, or about how ADAS can help, contact Charles Ffoulkes on charles.ffoulkes@adas.co.uk. To read ADAS case studies in relation to sustainability, please visit our Sustainable Food and Farming webpages

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