Climate change policies ‘held back’
15 Sep 2011
The Government is making only moderate or no progress on most of its commitments to cut carbon emissions, an influential coalition of environmental groups has said.
Efforts to tackle climate change are being held back by attempts by the Treasury and Business Department to curb ambition, according to a new study by think-tank Green Alliance in conjunction with WWF, Christian Aid, Greenpeace and RSPB.
The study, based on five months’ research and discussions with more than 40 Whitehall officials and ministers, analysed 29 low-carbon commitments set out by the coalition in its programme for government last May.
It found that seven commitments had seen good progress, including the pledge to cancel a third runway at Heathrow, pushing for Europe to move towards a tougher 30% emissions target by 2020 and reducing central government carbon emissions by 10% in 12 months.
But on another six policies, the coalition is failing to deliver on its commitments.
The Government is failing to create green financial products which would allow individuals to invest in the low-carbon economy, the tax burden is not being shifted towards pollution, and ministers have not mandated a charging network for electric and hybrid cars.
The remaining 16 policies have seen only moderate progress, either due to delay or poor policy design – or both.
Matthew Spencer, director of Green Alliance, said: “The Government has taken some good decisions in tough economic circumstances, but it is hobbled by a lack of cross-government support for the coalition programme. It will miss more opportunities to get economic and political benefit from its policies without more public leadership from the Prime Minister and greater accountability across Whitehall.”
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “The Government stands by its record on green policies over the last year to deliver the low carbon economy, with progress on a whole host of areas and a lot more on the way: We are determined to make the UK the destination of choice for global low carbon investment.”
He said achievements included a White Paper on energy market reform to boost investment for low carbon electricity generation and a road map on renewable energy, while legislation is going through Parliament to introduce the green deal.