Government told to ‘stop dragging heels’ over repeated delays to net zero review

Government told to ‘stop dragging heels’ over repeated delays to net zero review
Labour urges chancellor to publish final review ‘which has now been delayed since autumn 2020’

Rishi Sunak has been urged to “stop dragging his heels”, as Labour accused the government of again delaying a long-awaited review into plans for net-zero emissions by 2050.

The review is expected to inform the next steps in the UK’s transition to the legally binding target of reaching net zero by the middle of the century — a goal legislated for by former PM Theresa May.

It comes after the government’s own climate advisers said the country had made “woeful” progress on tackling the climate change and ignore repeated warnings to prepare for its “inevitable impact”.

In response to a Common written question — asking when the final report of the net zero review will be published — minister Kemi Badenoch declined to give a specific date, saying it would be published “in due course” and “later this year”.

The chief secretary to the Treasury added the review will also be released “in advance” of the critical climate summit Cop26, which is not until the autumn between 31 October and 12 November.

Ministers had previously suggested a roadmap to net zero would be published “during” 2020 and in May, Ms Badenoch told MPs the final report would be released “this spring”, but so far it has failed to materialise.

As the chancellor prepared to release plans for a green bond to raise funds to invest in projects such as renewable energy, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said: “There’s a real danger this green bonds announcement is all talk and no action — just like the chancellor’s long delayed net zero review — and a distraction from the critical job of halting climate change.

“The chancellor must stop dragging his heels, and publish his final report into the net zero review which has now been delayed since autumn 2020.

“And he should hardwire his net zero targets into his upcoming spending review, as Labour would do.”

Ms Badenoch added in her response to the written question that the final review will “explore key issues and trade-offs as the UK decarbonises”.

She added: “Against a backdrop of significant uncertain on technology and costs, as well as changes to the economy over the next 30 years, it focuses on the potential exposure of households and sectors to the transition, and highlights factors to be taken into account in designing policy that will allocate costs over this time horizon.

“In line with the review’s terms of reference the report will allocate costs over this time horizon. In line with the review’s term of reference, the report will not include policy recommendations”.

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