The UK’s top climate adviser has pushed back strongly against “defeatist” criticism that the country’s net zero target is expensive, and urged the Treasury to pick up the currently “incremental” pace of decarbonisation. Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), urged the debate over net zero to be framed in a more positive light: “It can be done,” he said. “It is worth it … I hope we can move away from thinking about the cost and see it as a mission to modernise the economy.” Two years ago, the UK led the world in adopting a 2050 net zero target, which is essential if humanity is to have any chance of keeping global heating to the relatively safe level of 1.5C to 2C. Last December, the CCC outlined five ways to reach that goal, which the cabinet will soon have to decide on before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in the autumn. In recent weeks, however, there has been a wave of criticism by rightwing commentators that the costs are too high, which has put the spotlight on which side of the debate the Treasury will back. Stark said it was essential for the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to endorse the government’s net zero plan because his spending review would shape its prospects.
Guardian 2nd Sept 2021 read more »
The head of the UK’s climate advisory body has called for more public and political debate over the UK’s pathway to net zero emissions by 2050, warning that without wider engagement with the transition public support for green reforms could be eroded. Speaking during an event hosted by the think tank Onward this afternoon, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) CEO said he welcomed wider debate around how best to reach the UK’s net zero goals, arguing that democratic accountability was crucial in gaining support for the transition. Stark, who took over as CEO of the government’s climate advisory body in 2018, also acknowledged that while his role is politically neutral, the nature of the job had increasingly pushed the CCC into a more political arena as the debate over how to decarbonise the economy heats up. “Since the practicalities involve a hell of a lot of policymaking, and leadership by governments, particularly over the next decade or so, it’s going to be hard to avoid some of those political statements,” he said. “So let me acknowledge from the top that the current politics of net zero are becoming very, very interesting. And they are becoming increasingly contested. And for my money, that is probably a good thing.” In recent months, debate and discussion within government, Parliament, and the media has begun to intensify around a number of decarbonisation policies, such as how to cut emissions from home heating and accelerate the switch to electric cars. A handful of backbench Conservative MPs, including former Minister Steve Baker, have publicly raised concerns over the potential costs associated with meeting the UK’s net zero targets. But while Stark has previously warned a lack of government leadership on the net zero transition risked opening up a vacuum that could be filled by climate sceptic voices seeking to undermine the need for a net zero transition, he today argued there was “definitely” a need for more debate – not less – around how to deliver net zero emissions.
Business Green 2nd Sept 2021 read more »