‘Stop kicking the can down the road’: More MPs call for government net zero strategy

A cross-party group of MPs have called on the government to urgently come forward with its net zero strategy, and to “stop kicking the can down the road” after it refused to provide a point-by-point response to the final findings of the UK’s first citizens’ climate assembly.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee made the comments after the publication of the government response to the committee’s July report, which was based on the findings of the Climate Assembly UK (CAUK).

The citizens’ assembly of people from across the UK met several times last year to discuss policies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, as part of a parliament-backed project to democratise green decision making. It was first convened exactly one year ago.

Darren Jones, a Labour MP who is also chair of the BEIS committee, said the assembly “had done the prime minister’s homework for him by agreeing the best ways to achieve our net zero target through incremental changes to the way we heat our homes, travel and live”.

In July, the BEIS Committee called on the government to publish a comprehensive, point-by-point response to the CAUK’s final report, which included calls for improved information and education for all on climate change as well as fairness, including across sectors, geographies, incomes and health.

However, the committee said it was disappointed that the government had declined to  provide a point-by-point response and instead refers to the substance of its original submission to the BEIS Committee’s Climate Assembly inquiry.

This  echoes similar comments made by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published in March, which found the government “lacked a plan for how it will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” despite setting the target in law almost two years ago.

“The government should listen to the public and now seize the opportunity to bring forward the policies to get to net zero,” said Jones.

“Ministers acknowledge the value of the Climate Assembly and recognise its importance as part of their evidence-base for policy-making on net-zero. But the government must go further and faster in engaging the British public and in energising and motivating people about the net zero opportunities ahead of us. The clock is ticking to COP26 and the government should not waste this chance to engage the whole country in the conversation around climate change.”

In its response, the government said it planned to set out its  public engagement approach in the  net zero strategy, which it has previously said will be published “shortly”.

“As we deliver on the UK’s net zero target, there will need to be increasing information and citizenship involvement around climate change and net zero. Public engagement can help build awareness, acceptability, and uptake of sustainable technologies and approaches over the long term and can also help improve the effectiveness of policies,” it added.

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