Saturday , December 4 2021

UK tries to juice UN climate talks with its net-zero plan


Days before it hosts United Nations negotiations over how to ramp up the global fight against climate change, the UK released a sweeping plan to decarbonize its economy by targeting everything from the finance industry to home heating.
The masterplan will give British politicians something to tout as they put pressure on other nations to raise their green ambitions ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The challenge will be following through on the ambitious proposals, which include putting levies on natural gas, boosting subsidies for electric vehicles and large investments in technology to capture carbon emissions and store them away.
“As the most detailed net-zero strategy submitted to the UN by any nation, it will augment the UK’s credibility,” said Sepi Golzari-Munro, acting director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a London-based advisory firm.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the climate talks will, as always, be “ extremely tough”. Discussions among Group of 20 leaders, which will set the tone for the Glasgow summit, have already run into major hurdles. The UK wants world leaders to agree on a plan to phase out coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, and set a target for reaching net-zero globally. Having a plan to make difficult changes at home could help bolster its case that others should do the same.
A big question around the net-zero plan is how much it will cost, and who will bear it. In a separate document released on Tuesday, the Treasury estimated a price tag of as much as 2% of economic output in 2050 that could also put a hole in tax revenues. But it stressed that the cost of doing nothing will be greater.
The UK faces its own risks from a warming planet. Average land temperatures have risen by around 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, while sea levels have increased by 16 centimeters since 1900, according to the Climate Change Committee. Yet adaptation isn’t happening fast enough. In the last five years, more than half a million new homes were built that won’t be resilient to future high temperatures, according to the panel. More than 4,000 heat related deaths have taken place in England alone since 2018.
British companies welcomed government support for heat pumps, electric vehicles, nuclear power and carbon capture, but also raised concerns about the lack of clarity over how the changes would impact their bottom lines.
“To truly transform the UK economy based on sustainable and green growth, we need to push further and faster and make key decisions on how to finance the transition to net zero,” said Matthew Fell, chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, the nation’s biggest business lobby.

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