With COP26 less than 100 days away, Caroline Lucas writes that net zero by 2050 is far too late, saying that ‘there is a yawning gap between our ambitions and the reality the government is delivering. This dithering is dangerous’.
‘Just last week, the government again postponed a plan for reducing emissions from the UK’s notoriously leaky housing stock – millions of gas boilers in people’s homes need to be replaced, and those homes properly insulated to reduce energy bills and keep them warmer in winter.
The transport decarbonisation strategy was anything but. It failed to rule out plans like the hugely destructive £27bn roadbuilding programme and focussed almost exclusively on the switch to electric vehicles. There was no new investment to improve local public transport or promote cycling and walking. And the plans for aviation rely on technology that is bordering on fantasy. There was nothing to address the demand for flying, nor any mention of a frequent flyer levy – which the citizens of the UK Climate Assembly recommended nearly a year ago. This was less “jet zero” as Boris Johnson calls it, more a flight of fancy.
Our Commission calls for an investment of at least an extra £30 billion a year to move to a cleaner economy that’s also fairer, creating up to 1.7 million good new jobs and ensuring no community is left behind.
More must be done to empower local communities to make the necessary changes where they live and work and where there are more experts than distant politicians and policymakers. This means devolving powers to local authorities so they can develop solutions that are tailored to local needs.
People need to see tangible benefits – warmer homes, cleaner air, better health, greener spaces and greater wellbeing. The Commission’s plan is a blueprint for just that – whether it’s free and expanded local public transport networks or advice and finance for adapting homes to new kinds of heating, via new “GreenGo” one-stop shops. We also call for all workers in high-carbon industries to be given a funded ‘right to retrain’ for new low-carbon jobs.
We urge the government to pluck up the courage to adopt this plan and run with it – safe in the knowledge that those citizen jurors whose ideas helped shape it reflect the values and hopes of millions across the UK.’