Theresa May will legally commit to ending Britain’s global warming contribution by 2050 – without caveats. The prime minister will announce legislation to set a path to “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century, as recommended by her climate change advisers. But there are concerns the move – an attempt to create a “legacy” achievement for a PM forced out of office for her Brexit failure – will fail to bind her successor to detailed action to help curb runaway climate change. Friends of the Earth warned of “cynical gesture politics” if the legal commitment was not backed with real teeth in terms of policy and money.
Independent 6th June 2019 read more »
The chancellor has warned Theresa May that reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 could cost the UK more than £1tn. The Financial Times reports that the PM wants to introduce the legislation to Parliament next week as “one of her most important legacies”. Philip Hammond has written to her, saying it would mean less money for schools, police and hospitals. The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said next week would see the first stage in the process of making this new target law – but any legislation would “have to wait until after Mrs May and after Brexit, so it could still be some time off”. Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, criticised his opposite number, saying: “We are facing a climate emergency and Philip Hammond clearly doesn’t get it. “The Tory party is way overdue in adopting a target already put forward by Labour, and now the chancellor is creating obstacles to prevent the action we desperately need to take.” A No 10 spokeswoman said there were “a lot of figures out there on this issue that don’t factor in the benefits or consider the costs of not doing this”. She added: “The costs relating to meeting this target are whole-of-economy costs, not a fiscal cost, and so it’s not really right to frame it as a trade-off for public spending.” The CCC, which is the independent adviser to government on climate change, put the cost at £50bn a year. It said, while the UK would not be able to hit “net zero” emissions any sooner, 2050 was still an extremely significant goal. Former Energy Secretary, and Liberal Democrat leadership contender, Ed Davey said it was time to act on climate change. “[Mr] Hammond might be trying to reclaim his crown as a fiscal hawk in the dying embers of [Mrs] May’s premiership, but this intervention is wrong-headed and threatens our children’s future,” he said. “The cost of tackling the climate emergency is massively outweighed by the long term cost of not acting. The chancellor has got his sums wrong.”
BBC 6th June 2019 read more »
Philip Hammond has warned Theresa May that setting a new target to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 would cost more than a trillion pounds and could make some of our key industries uncompetitive. The chancellor recommended in a letter to the prime minister that the Treasury should carry out a review of the costs and impacts of the proposed target before the government committed itself to it. He said that the cost of meeting it was likely to mean less money for other public services such as the NHS, schools and police. Mr Hammond was responding to a recommendation last month by the committee on climate change (CCC) that the government should tighten its target of an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 to net zero, meaning that any remaining emissions would be balanced by technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Green groups said that Mr Hammond was focusing too much on the costs and not enough on the benefits of the target. Friends of the Earth said: “It’s not a question of whether we can afford to cut climate-wrecking pollution to zero – we can’t afford not to.” The prime minister’s official spokesman said the CCC had advised that “achieving net zero would fall within our existing spending plans”. The government would respond to the CCC report “as soon as we can”, he said.
Times 7th June 2019 read more »
Downing Street has shot down claims made by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, that tackling the climate crisis would cost £1tn and require spending cuts for schools, hospitals and the police force. No 10 said plans to create a net zero carbon economy would cost no more than the UK’s existing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The firm response will be seen as a rare rebuke for Hammond, who warned Theresa May that reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero could cost the country £1tn and lead to industries becoming “economically uncompetitive” without government subsidies. In a letter to the prime minister, Hammond said the proposed 2050 net zero target – one of the most far-reaching proposed in the world – would mean less money for schools, the NHS and police forces, the Financial Times reported. Downing Street said analysis from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) showed that the cost of a net zero carbon economy would “fall within our existing spending plans”.
Guardian 6th June 2019 read more »
Conservative leadership candidates are split over cutting green house emissions to net zero after Philip Hammond told Theresa May that it will cost £1trillion and divert money from police and National Health Service. The Treasury’s warning prompted a row among Tory MPs who want to replace Mrs May has party leader. Esther McVey MP – the former Work and Pensions secretary who has the backing of the required eight MPs to enter Monday’s contest – said: “If you want to guarantee failure, get politicians to set a target. We’ve got to preserve our planet – failure on climate change is not an option – but not at the expense of working people’s livelihoods. This emissions target will result in rising costs for working families and less money for our schools and hospitals, so the Chancellor is right to issue this warning. “I will only keep the target in place if it makes a difference to global temperatures.” But others disagreed. Dominic Raab, the ex-Brexit secretary, said: “We’ve provided global leadership in combating climate change and we are reducing emissions faster than any other G20 country. We need to maintain that ambition – including stretching targets such as zero emissions by 2050.” Matt Hancock, the Health secretary, also dismissed Mr Hammond’s warning the target could cost £1trillion saying he supported the zero emissions target. He said: “The condition of our planet is worth more than pounds and pence. It’s not a trillion pounds. It’s just not. You can’t put a figure on the value of the environment. “I am extremely sceptical of these economic forecasts. Having one been an economic forecaster, the one thing I know about economic forecasts is that they’re wrong.”
Telegraph 6th June 2019 read more »
PHILIP Hammond has been accused of “creating obstacles” to tackling climate change after a leaked letter from the Chancellor to Theresa May warned that the UK Government’s target to cut carbon emissions would cost taxpayers well over £1 trillion. The Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure from scientists, experts, health professionals and environmental groups to set a legal target to reduce the UK’s emissions to “net zero” by 2050 before she steps down in mid-July. The calls have come in the wake of a report from the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change[CCC], which recommended putting the new goal into law to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent by 2050. Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, accused the Treasury of “putting their ideology before our well-being” and failing to include the benefits of a switch to a net zero economy. If you want to know whether a policy is a good idea, you include the benefits as well as the costs, and in this case the benefits include an economy fit for the 21st century, cleaner air, warmer homes and maximising the chances of civilisation surviving. The Treasury need to put the necessity of a green future above their nostalgia for a time when environmental threats could be dismissed as a niche issue. “If reality doesn’t fit with their models, it’s the models that need to change,” he added.
Herald 6th June 2019 read more »
It is absurd to question whether we can afford to keep our planet liveable. If we fail to move to a low-carbon economy, the consequences will be dire. Set against that, the costs – of £50bn a year in investment, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which set out the case last month for a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, or £70bn a year, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – of maintaining our current lifestyles and orderly existences are trivial. The UK’s economy is worth roughly £2tn a year at present, so Hammond’s estimate of a £1tn cumulative cost by 2050 amounts to less than half of one year’s GDP in three decades. Yet the question – can we afford to keep our planet liveable? – has dogged debates on climate change for more than three decades. While scientists have issued ever stronger warnings about the likely impacts of climate change, nations have held back on taking action to reduce greenhouse gases, which have remained stubbornly high, though their growth rate has slowed. The Stern review, conducted by the former World Bank economist Lord Stern for the Treasury in 2006, was supposed to settle this question once for all. Stern found, and his analysis has been widely backed up since, that the cost of dealing with climate change would be the equivalent of shaving 1-2% from GDP growth rates per year, compared with a cost of at least 5% of GDP per year from leaving global heating unchecked. The CCC, in its recommendation of a net zero target, also estimated a cost of 1-2% of GDP by 2050, which is far outweighed by the costs of not acting. Nor would the UK be alone: the EU is considering a similar net zero target by 2050, while Norway, New Zealand and a few other countries have already done so. Stern said that in the decade since his landmark review, the case for urgent action on the climate had grown even stronger. “In 2006, we understated the case: it has turned out that the risks of climate change were even greater than we knew, and the costs [of taking action] are far lower,” he said. “I think the current cost estimates will turn out to be far too high too, as we will adopt new ways of doing things.” He added: “If reports of the letter are correct, Hammond has not understood the urgency of the challenge and the immense costs of climate change, and has failed to understand the capabilities of the UK. The UK is in an enormously powerful position to take leadership, with its strengths in research and development, in innovation, in finance in the City, with our skills in city planning – there is enormous potential here.”
Guardian 6th June 2019 read more »
Downing Street has criticised Philip Hammond after the chancellor claimed Theresa May’s plan to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 would require cuts to public spending on schools, police and hospitals. A spokesman for the prime minister said that the new target, which government officials expect to become law next week, could be achieved without any changes to current spending.
FT 6th June 2019 read more »
Richard Lewney, Chair, Cambridge Econometrics, Phil Summerton Managing Director, Cambridge Econometrics; member, Costs and Benefits Advisory Group for the Committee on Climate Change’s May 2019 Net Zero report. UK chancellor Philip Hammond’s cost estimate of “more than £1tn” (report, June 6) for a net zero emissions 2050 target sounds huge: that figure is about half of the UK’s gross domestic product this year. But it’s a cumulative figure over 20 to 30 years. Imagine a graph of projected GDP to 2050 as a slowly rising curve. Now imagine a curve slightly below that one, the gap increasing to 1-2 per cent by 2050. The bit between the curves is a way to picture the Committee on Climate Change’s “resource cost” estimates. Can we afford that? What does a future of UK inaction look like? If other countries act, we’ll be left with an economy stuck in the carbon age while competitors dominate the market for low-carbon technologies. If our inaction deters others from acting, we’ll face the enormously damaging consequences of global warming that scientists predict. How does that cost-benefit calculation look now?
FT 7th June 2019 read more »
A thriving economy with net zero emissions is desirable and possible but, to get there within the next 30 years, the government has to act now. Our new infographic proposes five policies that could be put in place immediately to get the UK back on track to meet its carbon budgets and on the road to net zero by 2050 at the latest. These policies can not only end the UK’s contribution to climate change. They can also save money in the medium to long term, improve air quality, benefit nature and create new local jobs. Green Alliance propose e five policies that could be put in place immediately to get the UK back on track to meet its carbon budgets and on the road to net zero by 2050 at the latest.
Green Alliance 3rd May 2019 read more »
Scottish Power has called for new, tougher climate change laws to help increase green energy projects. The energy giant said legislation was needed to help meet a UK target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Its call came as the UK’s biggest onshore wind farm – Whitelee near Glasgow – reached its 10th anniversary. The UK government said it was “on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely”. Last week a group of leading climate scientists wrote to the prime minister calling for her to enshrine a target for net-zero emissions in national law. Their letter came after the government’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), urged ministers to set a new legal target for a 100% cut in all greenhouse gases by the middle of the century as soon as possible. Net-zero is the point where the same volume of greenhouse gases is being emitted as is being absorbed through offsetting techniques like forestry.
BBC 7th June 2019 read more »
Times 7th June 2019 read more »
The UK must prepare for a “radical transformation” of its electricity system if it is to build a net zero emission economy by 2050, with billions of pounds of annual investment needed to deliver 5GW to 10GW of new renewables capacity each and every year. Those are the core findings of a new analysis by Aurora Energy Research, which argues the government faces a “stark choice” over which pathway the UK should take to fully decarbonise its electricity system over the next 30 years, between either greater state-led investment and control or a more market-based approach. Although coal power is set to be retured in the UK by 2025 and now accounts for a fraction of the electricity mix, fossil fuels still make up over 40 per cent of UK electricity generation, meaning the country faces a major engineering challenge if gas is to follow coal off the grid. The new analysis comes amid reports overnight that Prime Minister Theresa May could introduce legislation for a net zero target as early as next week, despite warnings from the Chancellor that reaching the goal could cost the UK £1tr between now and 2050. However, the CCC has said that the costs of achieving a net zero target would be manageable, as long as the transition is accompanied by clear, ambitious long-term policies to spur markets into action.
Business Green 6th June 2019 read more »