The United Kingdom continues trending downward by ranking 20th in this year’s CCPI.
While the UK ranks high in the GHG Emissions and Energy Use categories, it gets a low in Renewable Energy and Climate Policy.
The UK government under Prime Minister Sunak has rolled back several pieces of climate legislation. Instead of phasing out fossil fuels, the government is increasing domestic fossil fuel extraction by approving a new coal mine in Cumbria and granting hundreds of new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea. These political actions are undertaken following the government´s official policy to ‘pursue all means for increasing UK oil and gas production.‘
Moreover, the UK continues to implement fossil fuel subsidies, most recently with the introduction of an ‘investment allowance’ loophole within the windfall tax on oil and gas profits in 2022. This decision came despite a 2009 pledge to phase out ‘inefficient‘ fossil fuel subsidies. The CCPI national experts note the government faced criticism from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
Policy changes undermine UK’s climate ambitions
The experts report further policy changes that undermine the UK´s climate ambitions. In September, the government delayed a ban on new combustion engines from 2030 to 2035, and it watered down a plan to halt the installation of new gas boilers in homes by 2035. In another setback, evidently, no offshore wind projects were approved in 2023, undercutting the UK´s plan to triple its offshore wind power capacity by 2030.
Our experts report that the energy efficiency of many UK buildings is very low, but the existing Great British Insulation Scheme would take an estimated 300 years to meet the government´s own targets. Our experts therefore call for a massive increase in funding for home insulation programmes, along with measures to replace fossil fuel heating systems with electric or heat pump systems.
There is, however, visible progress in the rail industry, where the government provided £13.3 billion in funding over 2021/2022.
Reduction target is in danger
Considering the recent setbacks, our experts formulated clear demands: First, the government should set out detailed sectoral delivery plans, which provide a clear roadmap. Second, it should implement a plan to phase out coal, oil, and gas production through a just transition, stop approving new coal, oil, and gas fields, and end fossil fuel subsidies. Third, it should improve the auctioning system to allow for more onshore and offshore wind production. Finally, it should foster proactive implementation of home insulation and heat pumps.
The recent backtracking on climate policy has negatively impacted the credibility of the previous host country of the COP. The UK government´s climate policies are not in line with the government’s aim of reducing economy-wide GHG emissions by at least 68% by 2030, or with the goal of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C.
The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI: