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UK will miss 2030 emissions targets without ‘immediate step change’ – analysts

14 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Clean Air

The UK Government is going to miss its 2030 decarbonisation targets without “an immediate step change” in policy, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has said.

A lack of consistent messaging, U-turns and watered down targets mean the Government has to “close the gap” within the next five years.

The UK is committed under the Paris Agreement to lower its emissions by 68% compared to 1990 levels by the end of this decade, on the road to becoming net zero by 2050.

To that end, the current Government has established the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and introduced the Energy Act, aiming to boost investment in low-carbon alternatives.

It said UKERC has ignored the progress it has made in attracting low-carbon investment over the years, extending heat pump use and reforming the electricity grid.


This year the Government has faced criticism for pursuing a hydrogen for home heating trial and extending by five years the time in which new petrol and diesel cars can be sold.

An auction for offshore wind also failed to attract any bidders, who complained that the Government had not adjusted its offer to account for inflation, so any new projects would not have made any money.

Fuel poverty campaigners have also pointed out that because of high gas prices there will not be the same support for those struggling with energy bills this winter as there was last year.

While the price of gas is lower than last winter, it is still high for many households and it is likely to remain so into next year.

Professor Peter Taylor, UKERC’s co-director, said the Government’s focus on energy security has been “rather narrow” and that there is “clearly a need” to look into why its offshore wind auction failed.

Of Rishi Sunak’s delay on new petrol and diesel cars he said: “Our reflection is that it merely causes confusion in the market in terms of the commitment that the Government has.

“So for both consumers and industry, that probably wasn’t very helpful.”

The UKERC said whoever forms the next Government will take the UK towards its 2030 target and therefore needs to decentralise decision-making for renewable energy projects and make it easier for them to connect to the electricity grid.

Energy efficiency

They will also need to improve home energy efficiency, roll out more electric vehicles, provide financial support to industry to help it decarbonise and ensure that energy generation does not cost the environment.

A DESNZ spokesperson said: “This report ignores the huge progress we’ve made towards reaching net zero.

“We are home to the five largest operational wind farm projects in the world, attracted £200 billion in low-carbon investment since 2010, and cut emissions faster than any other major economy.

“We are also set to meet our net zero commitments while taking a pragmatic approach that doesn’t burden hardworking families.

“We have made it easier to get a heat pump by increasing the Boiler Upgrade Scheme by 50% to £7,500 – tripling applications in the week after it was rolled out.

“And we are undertaking the biggest reforms to the electricity grid since the 1950s – halving the time it takes to build networks, speeding up grid connections, and supporting jobs.”

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Ap Kenneth
7 months ago

Cheap and abundant energy is the bedrock of a successful economy but this government has been dragging its heels as it is in hock to vested interests. There is no vision as to what the future could be like for the betterment of us all.

7 months ago

Yeah but if they did go for green they would lose too many backers (they need the funds for the next GE). 2015, the deal for green in 2016 and on was scrapped by the cons. It benefited many house builders. Guess where the UK policy is written.

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