Government pledges new net zero governance arrangements

The government has pledged to “establish new governance arrangements to drive forward our efforts across the whole of government to deliver net zero, potentially including a new cabinet sub-committee on climate change”, once the UK has left the EU.

It made the announcement as part of its response to the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) reports on the UK’s progress in reducing emissions and on the country’s preparedness for climate change. 

Also as part of the response the government announced that it is developing a Transport Decarbonisation Plan to “bring forward bold new measures to help reduce emissions” and is consulting on minimum energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings.  

Few details have been published relating to what will be in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, except that it would take a “coordinated, cross-modal approach to deliver the transport sector's contribution to our decarbonisation targets". 

On energy efficiency, the government will consult on a “proposed trajectory of EPC Band B by 2030 for minimum energy efficiency standards in non-domestic rented buildings”, which it says currently accounts for “around a third of energy consumption of all non-domestic buildings”. 

This could save businesses £1 billion per year in energy costs by 2030, it claims. “We are also committing to consult in 2020 on introducing mandatory in-use energy performance ratings for non-domestic buildings in the private sector, which will be key to helping businesses to understand and improve the actual energy performance of their buildings,” it said. 

Further details on how the UK intends to make progress towards the net zero target will be set out in the National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn.

In the foreword to the response, energy secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “The challenges ahead are immense – but the rewards of action will be greater still. 

“This government has listened to the science and the clear message from across society – and we are redoubling our efforts to drive down emissions while seizing the economic opportunities at hand, as we lead the world towards a cleaner, net zero future.”

Responding to the announcements, CCC chief executive Chris Stark noted that 110 days had passed since the net zero target became law and welcomed the "growing acknowledgement of the need for increased ambition".

Stark said: "There are 13 months until COP26, and new commitments must be made. When it comes to preparing for the effects of climate change, the government’s approach continues to rest on the need for further research and guidance, instead of action; meanwhile, the country remains unprepared for even a 2 degree rise in global temperature. The UK’s role as a genuine climate leader now rests on tangible action – we will be watching next month’s budget closely.”