By Sophie Squire
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Tories miss their tame climate action targets

The Tories are leading us toward climate disaster
Issue 2862

The installation of wind farms is far too slow to meet net zero targets. (Picture: Stephen Gidley)

Supporters of climate group Just Stop Oil (JSO) had good reason to disrupt a test cricket match cricket between England and Australia in London on Wednesday of last week.  Two activists stormed the field and threw orange powder across the grass. 

JSO said that financial giant JP Morgan, who handed £343.2 billion to fossil fuel companies between 2016 and 2022, is partnered with Lord’s cricket ground. This action was even more important as a new report released this week by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), set up to advise the government on reducing emissions, has condemned the Tories’ lack of progress. 

The outgoing Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Debden, a former Tory party environment minister wrote, “I am more worried. The commitment of the government to act has waned since our Cop26 presidency. There is hesitation to commit fully to the key pledges.”

He described the government’s backing of new coal mines and oil and gas fields in the North Sea as “utterly unacceptable”. 

The report goes on to say that Britain has “lost its global leadership position on climate action”. It complains, “We are no longer Cop president, no longer a member of the EU negotiating bloc. 

“Our response to the recent fossil fuel price crisis did not embrace the rapid steps that could have been taken to reduce energy demand and grow renewable generation. We have backtracked on fossil fuel commitments, with the consenting of a new coal mine and support for new British oil and gas production—despite the strong wording of the Glasgow Climate Pact.” 

The report notes that while the Tories have set out several plans in the past few years, they have been slow to implement them and have wholly dumped other policies. Promises included the phasing out of cars, lorries and other vehicles that run on fossil fuels by 2030 and the decarbonisation of the electricity system by 2035. 

One of the most damning parts of the report details how the government is failing to alter or retrofit homes to reduce carbon emissions and people’s bills. The government committed to installing 600,000 heat pumps to help heat homes more sustainably by 2028. 

Last year 72,000 new heat pumps were installed in buildings, 69,000 of these were installed in homes. But this fell short of the annual target set out by a previous report by the CCC. 

It wrote that 130,000 heat pump installations should have been made in 2022 and estimated that 145,000 should be installed in 2023. And the number of homes that received energy efficiency improvements as part of the Energy Company Obligation scheme more than halved from 383,700 in 2021 to 159,600 in 2022. 

And on almost every other count, the government is on track to miss the targets they previously set out. The report pointed out that while renewable energy produced more electricity in 2022, this was not at the rate required to meet the government’s targets. 

Rates of tree-planting will need to double by 2025 for the government to reach its target of planting 30,000 hectares per year, according to the authors. The report also complained that the government continues to ignore advice that there should be no new airport expansion. 

Even an establishment body like the CCC, packed with Tories and establishment figures, is seriously concerned about the government’s climate policies. Climate protesters have every right to rage against Tory policies that are driving us to the brink of disaster. 

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