‘Green Day or Groundhog Day’: Government's net zero plans under fire

Environmentalists, industry bodies, and academics have united in their condemnation of today’s announcements by the government centred around the new energy strategy to ‘power up’ the UK.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Source - Gov.uk

Far from being the ‘green day’ initially expected, the raft of strategies and documents announced by the government today amount to little more than window dressing, according to campaigners.  

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, warned: “Friends of the Earth successfully took legal action against the government's previous net-zero strategy because it failed to show how legally binding climate targets would be met.”

He added: “With these policies looking dangerously lacklustre and lacking on climate action, we will be combing through the detail of the amended strategy and are poised to act if ministers have fallen short once.”

The strategy - called Powering Up Britain - focuses on boosting renewable energy to reach net zero.

But shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said: “What was billed with huge hype as the government's 'green day' turns out to be a weak and feeble groundhog day of re-announcements, reheated policy, and no new investment.”

Mark Maslin, a professor of climatology at University College London, accused the government of having “missed the opportunity to radically change the UK energy production and market”.

RenewableUK's executive director of policy and engagement, Ana Musat, commented that the plans do “not go far enough to attract the investment we need in the renewable energy sector”.

And Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns, WWF, said: “While there is some wheat among the chaff, today’s announcements are a half-baked rehash of existing commitments.” She described the plans as lacking “ambition and concrete action”.

This concern was echoed by Mel Evans, head of climate, Greenpeace UK, who said: “Green Day has turned into Groundhog Day - yet another government failure on climate action.”

She added: “This piecemeal, re-heated and confusing announcement is just not enough to meaningfully tackle climate change or to provide secure, affordable energy for households.”

UK100, a network of local leaders who have pledged to lead a rapid transition to net zero, also raised concerns over today’s announcements. Jason Torrance, the organisation’s chief executive, said they “fall far short of unlocking the ambition and ability within local government to go further and faster in delivering net zero”. There is a “painful disconnect” between words and action, he said.

However, others have taken a more positive view. Sarah Mukherjee, chief executive, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, welcomed the “emphasis from the government on net zero and its practical support for renewable energy”.

And Environmental Audit Committee chair, Philip Dunne, said: “From boosting low carbon heating to harnessing renewable energy, and addressing carbon leakage to furthering hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, the Government outlines some promising ideas today.”

But he added: “We shall be looking carefully at the detail to see whether these new policies have added flesh to the bone on long-term plans to achieve zet zero Britain.”

The government has published more than 30 documents in relation to its announcements this morning, including policy statements, consultation responses, new consultations, competition guidance, and research. ENDS will be covering the announcements and sector reaction in more detail in the coming days.

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