A Conservative MP has said delaying climate action risks damaging the UK’s economic prospects, in a major review of the government’s net zero plans.
The report by Chris Skidmore says the government’s climate policies need to be more consistent and ambitious.
The UK is “falling behind” on some targets and needs a “new approach”, the report says.
It calls for 25 actions within two years, including food eco-labelling, and phasing out gas boilers by 2033.
Mr Skidmore – the Tory MP who wrote the report – was commissioned by former prime minister Liz Truss to review the government’s delivery of net zero, to ensure it was “pro-growth and pro-business”.
Some green campaign groups praised the report for focusing on the economic opportunities of net zero and urged the government to heed its recommendations.
In his conclusion, Mr Skidmore said the UK was in a “net-zero race” and delaying decisions risked losing jobs, infrastructure and investments to other countries.
The UK, he said, had “reached a tipping point” where the “risks of ‘not zero’ are now greater than the associated risks of taking decisive action on net zero now”.
Meanwhile, at the Royal Courts of Justice, campaigners celebrated a High Court ruling that granted charity Greenpeace permission to proceed with a judicial review of new oil and gas licensing in the North Sea.
The UK’s Secretary of State for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps, has reassured Britain’s oil and gas industry that it has his full support to continue North Sea drilling during a keynote speech given at the Spectator’s Energy Summit on Wednesday.
At the event, which was sponsored by National Gas as well as Drax, Shapps told an audience mostly composed of energy sector professionals that it “simply makes no sense whatsoever to deny our own oil and gas, and instead import it – with twice the embedded carbon – from elsewhere in the world”. He added that it is “very important” to understand that even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognises the need for “some” oil and gas production in 2050 when the UK has reached net zero.
Meanwhile, just one mile down the road at the Royal Courts of Justice, campaigners celebrated a High Court ruling that granted charity Greenpeace permission to proceed with a judicial review of the government’s decision to launch a new oil and gas licensing round in the North Sea.
On Wednesday morning, the judge gave Greenpeace permission to conduct a full judicial review into the government’s failure to take into account the environmental effects of consuming the oil and gas due to be extracted in the new licensing round, in which fossil fuel companies submitted more than 100 licences for exploration.
“See you in court” one campaigner wrote on Twitter tagging Shapps, who was in the process of assuring his audience that the government “will not shy away from awarding new licences where they are justified”. The fate of the controversial Rosebank oil field, with the potential to produce 500m barrels of oil and therefore exceed the UK’s carbon budget, remains undecided.
Fresh analysis of asset managers’ 2022 proxy voting patterns reveals the world’s largest investors are backsliding on climate-related votes, mainly in the energy sector.
While 2022 was the hottest year on record for a number of countries globally, the world’s largest asset managers’ progress on climate action has cooled.
Investors filed a record number of shareholder resolutions relating to environmental and social issues during 2022’s proxy season. However, new analysis by non-profit ShareAction of how US, UK and European asset managers voted on these resolutions reveals that those with the biggest influence worked to block a number of key climate votes last year.
The overall share of support across surveyed investors for environmental or social resolutions (filed mainly in the US, with a handful from other countries) increased from 60% in 2021 to 66% last year, but this was mainly down to a surge of supportive votes from asset managers in Europe, where sustainability disclosures are tightening.
Overall, the total number of supportive votes from US and UK investors barely changed between 2021 and 2022. Worryingly, the data reveals how the world’s four largest asset managers – BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors, Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments – have worked to block key climate votes going through.
This is particularly notable within the energy sector, where the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, went from supporting 72% of such votes in 2021 to just 16% in 2022.
Government claims are “misleading and misplaced”
Suella Braverman has been called out over claims made this week that the government has hit record breaking police recruitment targets.
The government are declaring a victory for saying they have delivered a manifesto target of recruiting 20,000 more police officers in England and Wales, as Braverman appealed to the right-wing press by boasting that there are now more officers than ever before in the history of policing.
However this claim has come under rigorous scrutiny, not just from a fact checking charity but also from the Police Federation itself.
Whilst this number is correct based on an increase between 2019 and March 2023, the figures follow a substantial decline in police numbers from 2010 to 2017 – estimated by the charity Full Fact to be a fall of almost 22,000 officers.
Figures revealed that there are actually only around 3,500 more officers now than there were in 2010, due to the huge drop in numbers before 2017.
The two organisations have written jointly to ministers on the urgent need for action on climate adaptation
The National Infrastructure Commission and Climate Change Committee have written jointly to government urging ministers to take steps to improve the resilience of key infrastructure services to the effects of climate change.
Building on recent reports by both organisations, the advisory bodies set out five steps to accelerate national adaptation planning to protect key networks:
- Setting clear and measurable goals for resilience, and action plans to deliver them
- Ensuring these standards are developed in time to inform forthcoming regulatory price control periods (which set investment levels for operators)
- Giving explicit duties for resilience to all infrastructure regulators
- Cabinet-level oversight of interdependencies and whole-system resilience
- Embedding resilience in infrastructure planning as we move to an economy more reliant on electricity
The letter was sent to Oliver Dowden MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs yesterday (26 April).