UK government warned to up climate efforts

It comes as Andrea Leadsom is appointed minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy


Joe McGrath

Rachel Reeves MP has written to the RT Hon Andrea Leadsom warning the government must ramp up its efforts to tackle climate change if it is to meet its net-zero target by 2050.

Reeves, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, has urged the country’s new secretary of state for the department to press for action on a series of policies – including electric vehicles, carbon capture and energy efficiency.

Leadsom was appointed to the department by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

The Tory government must take stronger action to meet future carbon budgets as well as the net-zero 2050 target, Reeves said.

The UK is required to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, compared to the previous target of at least 80 per cent reduction from 1990 levels.

So far, the UK has reduced emissions by 42 per cent, according to latest government figures.

Reeves is also calling for stronger BEIS and Treasury collaboration to ensure that the latter’s net-zero funding review considers both the costs and benefits of delivering the new target.

The Labour MP said she feared the government will fail to deliver on the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, adding that Leadsom would need to hit the ground running to tackle climate change and capitalise on the opportunities of a low-carbon economy.

Reeves also warned the government must overcome its ‘ideological opposition’ to onshore wind and set out plans to fulfil this technology’s huge potential.

“The BEIS Committee has made a series of recommendations to drive forward progress, in areas such as electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and on carbon capture and storage, which I hope the secretary of state will be ready and willing to act upon,” she said. “The secretary of state should also seek to overcome Treasury resistance and ensure that her colleague at No.11 examines the potential benefits as well as the costs of the transition to net zero.”

As part of her new role, Leadsom must appear before the cross-party committee, about which Reeves said: “We look forward to questioning the secretary of state later this year and pressing her on her commitment to the policies needed to deliver on the UK’s climate change obligations.”

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