Is the Government doing enough to tackle climate change?

Public concern over climate change has grown to unprecedented levels in recent months, and it is certainly an important issue that requires urgent action. Some say that the Government isn’t doing enough to tackle climate change, but this ignores the progress that this government has already made, as well as ignoring the determination of this Government to act, be a world leader and protect our planet for generations to come.

Under the Conservatives, the UK became the first advanced economy to legislate for Net Zero emissions by 2050. This target is important and makes the UK a world leader in decarbonising our economy, while also demonstrating this Government's commitment to acting. A target of 2050 does not mean we cannot achieve net zero sooner if possible, but we must be realistic about what is achievable. We have already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a quarter since 2010, whilst decarbonising faster than any other G20 nation since 2000. 

All the while, we have boosted renewables to record levels. These renewables now generate 35  per cent of UK electricity, which is up from 6.1 per cent under Labour. 99 per cent of all solar power deployment has taken place under the Conservatives, while offshore wind generation has increased 500 per cent.

So far, this Government has:

  • Become the first major economy to end our contribution to global warming by 2050;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 2010, faster than any other G20 country;
  • The UK has become the first country to phase out coal by 2025;
  • Invested £52 billion in renewable energy since 2010 with 400,000 people now working in low Carbon businesses. We have also pledged to create two million lower carbon jobs by 2030;
  • 2018 was the cleanest and greenest year with renewable resources supplying a third of our electricity, up from just over 6% in 2009;
  • Encouraging Greener Homes by bringing an end to fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses by 2025 and ensuring new housing developments deliver environmental improvements locally and nationally by using the ‘net-environmental gain principle’;
  • Doubled our support to help developing countries tackle climate change to more than £11 billion over five years so that we support poorer countries in dealing with the causes of climate change like preventing deforestation and reducing carbon emissions.

That said, we know we have more to do more, and I am pleased that this Government will put climate change at the heart of what it does. Conversely, the Labour Party police of reducing carbon emission to Net Zero by 2030 has been described as ‘utterly achievable’. Paul Johnson, the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies has described it as ‘almost certainly impossible, hugely disruptive and risks undermining consensus’. 

Achieving such a target, if at all possible, certainly would not possible without serious economic destruction. Government have a responsibility to ensure employment, while there would be logistical and manufacturing issues with such as target as well. There currently aren’t enough gas boilers in the world to replace all the gas boilers in the UK alone would need. 

Finally, any major change must be managed, and practical. Of course, the UK needs to play its part, but a global effort is required. For the UK to act alone leaves the UK economy and workers exposed.