Press release: UK to go further and faster to tackle climate change

  • Ambitious new package of energy efficiency measures for businesses which could also save them £1 billion a year in energy bills by 2030
  • bold plans to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport including automotive, freight and rail and stronger governance to drive further climate action across government
  • comes as government introduces the new Environment Bill

The government has today (15 October 2019) set out how it will go further and faster to tackle climate change, in response to recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This comes 4 months after the UK became the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.

The government’s official response to the CCC’s recommendation includes plans to strengthen governance to galvanise the whole of government to do more to tackle climate change and a bold and ambitious plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport.

Today’s response to the CCC sets out details of the wide-ranging action taken so far. Other new measures include:

  • proposals to dramatically improve commercial buildings in the private rented sector, with businesses set to benefit by saving up to £1 billion per year in energy bills by 2030. This includes a consultation on plans to improve the energy performance of rented commercial buildings. The proposal to set minimum energy efficiency standards at EPC band B by 2030 could reduce UK emissions by the equivalent of half a million homes – roughly the size of Birmingham
  • a consultation in 2020 on introducing mandatory in-use energy performance ratings for business buildings. This will be a key step in helping businesses to understand and manage the amount of energy they use
  • a consultation on proposals to make it simpler for large-scale energy storage facilities to obtain planning permission
  • an endorsement of the recommendations of the Energy Data Taskforce, unlocking the potential of data sharing across the energy system to support decarbonisation and reduce consumer bills

Today, the new Environment Bill will also be introduced in Parliament. The Bill outlines ambitious proposals to strengthen the UK’s standards of environmental protection post-Brexit with the establishment of a new public body – the Office for Environmental Protection which will also hold government and other public bodies to account on their environmental obligations, including on climate change.

Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:

4 months ago the UK took the bold step of becoming the first country in the developed world to put into law our ambition to wipe out the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050, following the CCC’s advice.

This builds on our long and proud track record of leadership - since 1990 we’ve cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 42% while growing our economy by more than two-thirds. More than half of our electricity currently comes from low carbon sources. And we will keep on going further and faster to ensure our action meets our ambition.

These new measures build on the UK’s record of action. Since committing in law to end the UK’s contribution to climate change entirely by 2050, the government has announced investment of around £2 billion in low carbon technologies to lead the race in developing solutions to tackle climate change from research and development in large-scale battery technology to speeding up the development of carbon capture capability.

Recognising the need to scale up efforts in the transport industry, the UK’s first Transport Decarbonisation Plan has been announced today to bring together a bold and ambitious programme of coordinated action needed to end the UK’s transport emissions by 2050.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

From driving our cars, to catching a train or taking a flight abroad, it is crucial that we ensure transport is as environmentally friendly as possible.

This is why, as well as agreeing to the CCC’s recommendation on net zero by 2050, we have launched this ground-breaking plan to achieve net zero emissions across every single mode of transport.

We want to work with industry and communities around the country to develop this plan – to make our towns and cities better places to live, help to create new jobs, improve air quality and our health, and take urgent action on climate change.

Due to be complete next year, the first-of-a-kind plan will set out in detail what government, business and society will need to do to deliver the significant emissions reduction needed from all modes of transport. In particular it will consider how UK technology and innovation can be implemented to encourage major changes to the way people and goods move across the UK.

Earlier this month, the government announced up to £1 billion to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies. The funding will look to accelerate mass production of key technologies in the UK through major investments in the manufacturing of batteries including cells, modules and packs as well as electric motors, power electronics and hydrogen fuel cells.

The new money will include research and development into new, advanced electric vehicle technologies, helping to super-charge the uptake of zero emission vehicles in the UK, building on the £1 billion R&D commitment to the Advanced Propulsion Centre and £274 million funding for the Faraday Battery Challenge.

Further detail on how the UK will make progress towards the 2050 net zero target is expected in the National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn.

Notes to editors

1. Since legislating for net zero, the government has committed more than £2 billion to support decarbonisation in sectors across the economy from industry to transport:

  • £390 million of investment in hydrogen and low carbon technology to reduce emissions from industry, including steel - which accounts for 15% of industry emissions in the UK
  • up to £1 billion additional funding to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge electric vehicle technologies
  • £400 million of investment in new charging infrastructure for electric vehicles
  • plans to use new financing models to roll out more new nuclear, including up to £18 million for the UK’s first mini nuclear reactor to be operational in the early 2030s - creating 40,000 jobs at its peak and powering 750,000 homes
  • £26 million of additional funding for carbon capture technology, including investment in the UK’s largest project to be operational by next year
  • £222 million investment in a visionary fusion reactor design programme
  • plans to make it easier to recycle oil and gas infrastructure for carbon capture, including some of the 20,000km of UK pipelines
  • record low use of coal in the UK’s energy system, with just 0.6% of the UK’s electricity coming from coal between April and June
  • our Green Finance Strategy, requiring publicly listed companies and large asset owners from 2021 to report on how climate change risk impacts on their activities by 2021
  • £5 million to help the financial sector develop green financial products, including green mortgages
  • a £10 million innovation fund to cut the cost of retrofitting old homes

2. The groundwork for the Transport Decarbonisation Plan will start immediately, with the department publishing a document setting out the challenge later this year. The Department for Transport has recently published strategies to reduce carbon emissions across transport, including the £1.5 billion Road to Zero, Maritime 2050 and the Clean Maritime Plan as well as the Aviation 2050 green paper, and upcoming aviation strategy which will be published early next year. But with the move to net zero, there is a need to go further and faster to reduce emissions. The Transport Decarbonisation Plan will take a coordinated, cross-modal approach to deliver the transport sector’s contribution to our decarbonisation targets.