27 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: ‘No idea’ how to hit zero emissions target

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The United Kingdom Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed concern that more than two years after the country committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the relevant Ministries still have no idea how it will be achieved.

PAC members said evidence from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Treasury revealed there was “no reliable estimate of what the process of implementing the net zero policy is actually likely to cost British consumers, households, businesses or Government itself”.

MPs said previous work on green taxation did not provide confidence that there was a clear plan, while the Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs had taken a “very limited view” of the contribution that tax could play in achieving the Government’s environmental goals.

The committee’s latest report said the Government’s net-zero strategy relied heavily on leveraging billions of pounds in private investment to spur innovation to drive down costs.

However, it noted the Government had a poor track record of providing investor confidence.

Chair of the PAC, Dame Meg Hillier said the Ministries were relying heavily on consumer behaviour changing rapidly and technological innovations to drive down the costs of green options, but they had not made clear how to support consumers and businesses to drive change.

“Every Government Department has a responsibility for delivering policies towards the target of net zero,” Dame Meg (pictured) said.

“Yet two years after enshrining the net zero by 2050 target in law, a plan has been unveiled without answers to the key questions of how it will fund the transition to net zero — including how it will replace significant income from taxes such as fuel duty.”

She said the net-zero strategy required national and Local Government, regulators, businesses and consumers to work together to deliver its targets.

“A top-down strategy from Government won’t deliver on its own.

“There is a risk that a series of disconnected initiatives will not bring about the changes that are now set out in law,” Dame Meg said.

London, 5 March 2022

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