The Treasury is blocking green policies essential to put the UK on track to net zero emissions, imperilling the UK’s own targets and the success of vital UN climate talks, experts have told the Guardian. A string of policies, from home insulation to new infrastructure spending, have been scrapped, watered down or delayed. Rows about short term costs have dominated over longer term warnings that putting off green spending now will lead to much higher costs in future. The UK’s credibility as host of the Cop26 climate talks this November in Glasgow rests on a clear net zero strategy – but publication has been postponed until near the eve of the summit, giving the UK little leverage to bring other countries to the negotiating table with the tougher carbon targets needed. Meanwhile, steep cuts to overseas aid have severely damaged the UK’s standing internationally, experts on the UN talks said. Kate Blagojevic, head of climate at Greenpeace UK, said: “There are strong reports that Rishi Sunak is intent on blocking climate spending at exactly the moment we need it most, and that his fingerprints sit heavily on moves to delay or block crucial investment to cut emissions from buildings or gas boilers.” The lengthy charge sheet against the Treasury includes: scrapping the green homes grant insulation scheme; freezing fuel duty while slashing electric car incentives; mulling cuts to air passenger duty on domestic flights, while making above-inflation train fare increases; failing to cut VAT on green home refurbishment; underfunding the new infrastructure bank; and delaying the phasing out of gas boilers. There have also been glaring omissions and delays. For instance, the transport strategy failed to back road pricing, which many believe will be essential to reducing emissions, which have remained stubbornly high as more people buy SUVs. Both the hydrogen strategy and heat and buildings strategy have been delayed until autumn, as has the overarching net zero strategy.
Guardian 13th Aug 2021 read more »
Ahead of the publication of the government’s long-awaited climate change strategy, these are the competing political factions trying to win out in the battle over net zero.
Guardian 13th Aug 2021 read more »
Boris Johnson’s commitment to climate issues is about to be tested, with politically contentious decisions to make before November’s conference and Rishi Sunak keeping a firm hand on costs. Having committed to hitting net-zero emissions by 2050, the prime minister has delayed a series of politically contentious policy decisions on boilers and carbon taxes until the autumn. These announcements are all expected in the run-up to the Cop26 climate conference. Most difficult of all is gas. About 23 million homes are heated by natural gas, and home energy use accounts for 15 per cent of the country’s greenhouse emissions. Ministers have pledged to ban gas boilers from new homes by 2025 and the forthcoming heat and buildings strategy is expected to announce that new gas boilers should be banned ten years later. However, both the technology and the market behind the alternatives — hydrogen and heat pumps — are in their infancy. Research this week suggested that blue hydrogen, which is made from natural gas, could be worse for the climate than continuing to burn gas. There are also concerns about whether it is safe. The other alternative is electric heat pumps, which extract heat from the ground, water or air. They are, however, expensive — an air-source heat pump unit costs £4,000 and installation can add a further £8,000. They also struggle to reach the temperatures of gas boilers, meaning that they work best if a house is well insulated.
Times 14th Aug 2021 read more »