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Two cheers for climate proposals

November 18, 2020 3:54 PM

ogw6 (Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash)The government has announced a 10 point plan on addressing the issue of climate change

The 10-point plan comprises:

Probably the newest and most eye catching part of the plan is the proposal to phase out sales of oil powered cars by 2030. As we import the majority of our cars it is to be hoped this will signal to global manufacturers the need to accelerate the development of electric models

The plan is to be welcomed as a major step forward but there are doubts about whether of itself the proposals go far enough

Ministers have subsequently admitted that only £4bn of new money is being allocated to support the programme. The assumption is that the private sector will do the heavy lifting when it comes to investment in the new infrastructure necessary to deliver the plan. France and Germany have announced much larger sums of public investment. For example only £2bn of government cash will be spent on plugging energy-leaking homes, the biggest source of emissions, down from the £9bn pledged in last year's Conservative election manifesto.

As a consequence the announcement is very short on detailed actions and plans. It might be argued this is inevitable early on but this government has made a habit of bold announcements which are not followed up with tangible actions As if to illustrate the point on the same day as this announcement the UK was among countries to vote to allow carbon emissions from the shipping sector to keep rising for another decade. On Tuesday afternoon, the UK voted to approve an amendment to weaken short-term emissions rules for ships at virtual talks held by the UN's International Maritime Organisation.

Mr Johnson's plan does not mention any new measures to boost onshore wind or solar and "nature" only gets a brief mention in Mr Johnson's new plan with the plan to plant 30,000 hectares of trees every year.

"Investing in locking up carbon by restoring habitats such as peatlands must be a top priority and receive substantially more investment than that already committed," said Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB.

The hope is this plan will generate hundreds of thousands of new green jobs

It is clearly a major step forward but seems to rely a lot on new technologies ( carbon capture, mini nuclear stations, hydrogen, green aviation) none of which are viable today. Looking at new technologies is sensible but requires major investment to bring them to fruition. You cannot help but think the objectives can only be achieved with much greater investment than is currently proposed. The Liberal Democrat Green Economic Recovery plan would kickstart the green industrial revolution that we need. We estimate a seious plan would cost something close to £150bn

Setting these objectives gives us something to monitor and hold the government to account for delivery. We will reserve our third cheer for signs the investment really is being made