UK Government Talks About Climate Change But Isn’t Taking Substantive Action

UK Government Talks About Climate Change But Isn’t Taking Substantive Action

Paris Agreement

COP26, initially scheduled for November 26th of 2020 in Glasgow, has been pushed back a year due to COVID-19. This setback is not stopping the United Nations and United Kingdom from hosting an online celebration to mark the 5th anniversary of the historic Paris Agreement. In doing so they hope to strengthen global momentum for climate action and urge countries to update their respective climate goals ahead of the UN’s deadline at the end of this year.

As host of the event, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline the UK’s commitment to meeting their Paris targets. So far only 13 countries have formally submitted an updated plan and the UK is not one of them. Hopefully this event will bolster greater global attention and commitment to climate action.

While Brexit is pushing the UK to forge its own path in climate change mitigation, such as capitalizing on its offshore wind industry, they have not yet updated its target under new government leadership. Additionally, it is not eligible for the €750 billion EU recovery package for the Coronavirus pandemic.


Climate Policies

Last year, then-Prime Minister Theresa May, introduced into law the UK’s target of hitting net-zero emissions by 2050. There has yet to be a clear road map on how the UK will accomplish this. Some recent policy announcements regarding the UK’s plans towards meeting their climate goals involve:

  • A clean car mandate, banning fossil fuel vehicles by 2030;
  • Plans to double international finance funding from £5.8bn to £11.6 billion;
  • A national investment bank to support domestic climate goals (yet to be formally announced). This would be a successor to the Green Investment bank, which the UK government created in 2012 and subsequently privatized in 2017;
  • £3 billion stimulus for improving energy efficiency in buildings;
  • Build Back Greener plan aiming to power all UK homes with wind energy by 2030 (yet to be formally announced).

Research Initiatives

The Adaptation Committee of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) launched a new website in an effort to inform the public on the latest Climate Change research as well as promote user-engagement with the topic. This website serves as an online hub that helps the public access information faster and more efficiently so they can learn about the ways in which Climate Change impacts their life.


Climate Justice

So far, the UK is focusing its climate action plan on clean energy and hopes to achieve net zero by investing in renewables. This focus on net-zero by the UK government has arose at the cost of addressing the social implications of a transition to renewables. UK news predominately focuses on the idea of a “green recovery”, investments in wind energy, and technical changes to the economy. The approach is not holistic and ignores the reality that many people are not equipped to afford the UK’s transition to net-zero. Furthermore, Boris Johnson has aligned much of his climate policy announcements with his party’s platform, threatening to turn the idea of a just transition into a political issue.

Activity Rating: ** Standing Still

The UK government talks a lot about Climate Change but are not taking substantive action. They have failed to update their Paris Agreement climate goals nor have they instituted any policies that indicate they are on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The lack of regard towards a just transition and aligning the shift away from fossil fuel-intensive economy with increased social well-being is extremely concerning. The UK news is reporting on many of the things the government says they will do but there is little proof that they have done anything.


Dear Right, Honourable George Eustice,

I understand your role involves an immense amount of challenges, given the complexity of environmental issues and how multi-faceted they are. I urge you when proposing recommendations for a Green Recovery from COVID-19 and when designing policy to achieve your governments ambitious commitment of a net-zero by 2050 that you consider the role pro-poor policy design can have. You must ensure climate action plans take into account the most vulnerable in society if your government intends to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement and achieve a just transition.


Right Honourable George Eustice, MP

House of Commons

Phone: 020 7219 7032


This post was submitted by UK Country Managers Gwen and Thomas

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