Net zero strategy falls short says Bath MP

Yesterday’s ‘Powering Up Britain’ government statement about their new net zero strategy, did not impress Bath’s MP.

Wera Hobhouse, who is also Liberal Democrat Climate and Energy Spokesperson, called Ministers out for the lack of ambition she said they were showing.

The Government only made the announcement after losing a court case which said their original plans did not contain enough detail so therefore an assessment could not be made as to whether they met our legal obligations on net zero. 

The High Court found that the original net zero strategy did not meet the Government’s obligations under the Climate Change Act to produce detailed climate policies that show how the UK’s legally-binding carbon budgets will actually be achieved.

It also found that Parliament and the public were not told about a shortfall in meeting a key target to cut emissions. Behind-the-scenes calculations by civil servants to determine the impact of emissions cuts from policies in the Government’s net zero strategy did not add up to the reductions necessary to meet the sixth carbon budget, which is the volume of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period 2033-37.

After the plans were announced, it was clear that no major new investment had been made available for green initiatives. Instead it was just a repackaging of different Government announcements into a larger one in order to satisfy the court ruling. Major blockades to net zero progress, such as the de facto ban on onshore wind and Ofgem’s remit still not focussing on net zero, remain in place. 

Bath’s MP put this failure to remove the de facto ban on onshore wind to the Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart. Mrs Hobhouse also called the Government out for being forced to make this statement by environmental groups and the courts, not because they actually wanted to present a bold vision for a greener future. 

In his response, the Minister said that the Government had set out how we will meet our legally binding carbon budgets. Mr Stuart also said that they were looking for opportunities to build more onshore wind but gave no details as to what those opportunities might entail.

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Climate and Energy Spokesperson and MP for Bath, commented:

“The fact the Government had to be dragged to court to announce this half-baked plan shows they simply do not care about tackling climate change or cutting energy bills.

“This updated net zero strategy once more falls far too short. There is no clear pathway to ending our fossil fuel dependency, a de facto ban remains on onshore wind and there is no remit for the regulator Ofgem to have a clear net zero objective.

“This is just compounding this Government’s legacy of failure on climate action and investing in renewables, the cheapest and most popular form of energy.”

Wera Hobhouse MP’s exchange with the Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero can be found here