Climate change

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. The threat of global warming has never been more apparent, as highlighted by the sobering conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming.

The UK has a world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth, with the UK being the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, and the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions.

To continue this momentum, the Government has announced around £2 billion for new policies since setting the Net Zero targets and a new Prime Minister-chaired Cabinet Committee on Climate Change has been set up to ensure all arms of Government are focussed on tackling this challenge. The UK will also continue to use its position as a global leader by hosting the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020 and will ask international partners to match the UK’s ambition.

The UK passed the world’s first Climate Change Act over a decade ago with cross-party support. This gave us both a framework to set statutory carbon budgets and set up the independent Committee on Climate Change. Over recent years, the following steps have been taken:

  1. Since 2000, independent analysis shows that no other major industrialised country has done more than the UK to cut CO2 intensity (the measure of carbon for each pound of GDP). We have seen reductions of an average of 3.7 percent a year, compared to the EU average of 2.3 per cent and a G7 average of 2.2 per cent. Between 2010 and 2018, the Government reduced UK greenhouse gas emissions by approximately a quarter overall.
  1. Ending coal use in our electricity generation through a huge shift to renewables and gas driven by decisive policy action: a UK carbon floor price (in addition to the European ETS). The UK has seen coal use on the grid tumble from almost 40 per cent in 2012 to our longest ever ‘coal free’ period recently when sources of renewable energy provided more electricity to our homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time over the last quarter. By 2025 the UK will have no coal powered electricity generation.
  1. The Government has used this achievement to establish the global Powering Past Coal Alliance with Canada – a coalition of 80 national and sub-national governments, businesses and organisations committed to phasing out unabated coal generation by no later than 2030.
  1. Renewable electricity generation has quadrupled since 2010.
  1. Our renewable energy mix is diverse but the UK is rapidly developing the incredible potential for offshore wind around our coastlines, with the world’s largest offshore wind capacity (8GW) and of a new £250 million sector deal to provide at least 30 percent of our electricity from offshore wind by 2030 (and a requirement that at least 60 per cent of the supply chain is UK sourced by 2030).
  1. The low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.
  1. The Government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.

More action is required and over recent months, there have been a number of significant new announcements, including the confirmation that we will bring forward to 2035 the date at which sales of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles end. Internationally, the UK will double its investment to help developing countries turn the tide against climate change and species loss – this will increase its International Climate Finance support to at least £11.6 billion over the next five years. This represents a doubling of the UK’s commitment to spend at least £5.8 billion on tackling climate change through support to developing countries to 2021.

I continue to be encouraged by the sustained progress we are seeing. There remains more to be done to ensure that we play the fullest possible role in reducing emissions but I firmly believe that the above measures are making a difference to the issues that we face and that will be able to make the difference that is needed.