UK's climate advisers slam govt progress

A report by the UK government's climate advisers has called for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet the country's new net zero target.

A report by the British government's climate advisers says the United Kingdom has failed to set sufficient policies to combat climate change and must act urgently to cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet its new net zero target.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report comes after Britain last month became the first G7 country to adopt an ambitious law to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The report said the lack of policies meant the country was already struggling to meet its old target to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 80 per cent compared with the 1990 level by 2050.

"I still don't think the enormity of the task has sunk in yet. It (the net zero target) needs to be the lens through which the government views all other areas," Chris Stark, CCC chief executive said.

He said Britain has a 12-18 month window, ahead of next year's international climate conference to get policies in place to make the target a reality.

The CCC, which is independent of the government, is chaired by former British environment secretary John Gummer and includes business and academic experts.

Stark said Britain must develop plans to curb emissions from transport and phase out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 or 2035 at the latest, rather than the current 2040 goal.

Climate campaigners have also criticised Britain's decision to back a third runway at London's Heathrow airport which is likely to increase emissions from the country's aviation sector.

Britain's greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 43.5 per cent since 1990 largely due to a rapid increase in renewable power such as wind and solar, and a move away from polluting coal plants.

The CCC, however, said the government has been too slow to develop technology to capture, store and use carbon dioxide emissions, held back the development of onshore wind farms, and failed to launch large-scale trials to use low-carbon hydrogen.

Action in the housing and agriculture sectors was also lagging, while tree planting rates in England have been below 5,000 hectares in every year since that was adopted as an aspiration in 2013, the report said.

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