London — The UK is off course to meet its own net zero carbon ambitions by 2050, the Institute for Public Policy Research said Nov. 8 on the eve of what would have been the global COP26 climate gathering in Glasgow.
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The think tank said new analysis had shown that over the course of the current Parliament, the government had committed to investing only 12% of what was needed to meet its net zero emissions target.
It estimated that GBP33 billion ($43.5 billion) in additional annual investment was needed to meet the net zero target, with only around GBP4 billion/year committed so far.
"The government is not yet delivering the scale of investment needed to lead the world towards a low carbon future," IPPR said.
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However, the think tank added that there was still an opportunity for the government to turn this around and set out ambitious policy and investment commitments in its upcoming 10-point plan.
It said the government should use its 10-point plan to set out an ambitious investment package that would accelerate the UK towards net-zero and a thriving natural world.
The IPPR estimated that GBP10.3 billion/year would be needed for the transport sector to deliver better and more sustainable public transport, including rail and electric bus services, as well as install electric vehicle charging points nationwide.
In industry, it said an upfront investment of GBP1.5 billion/year was required to develop, apply and support carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen clusters -- a network of green hydrogen refueling stations – that would be critical to reaching net zero.
It also estimated an additional GBP8 billion/year would be needed to achieve the decarbonization of existing homes and buildings, with GBP4.7 billion/year required to help nature thrive through schemes such as tree planting and peatland restoration across the country.
IPPR associate director Luke Murphy called for the government to "significantly raise both the UK's ambitions and targets on climate and nature, and radically scale-up the policies and investments needed to achieve them."
"Such ambition is not only good for the climate and nature but can be a huge driver of job creation, new industries and businesses right across the country," Murphy said.
"As the fifth-largest contributor to cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions and given its unsustainable global environmental footprint, the UK also has a responsibility to take bolder action."
IPPR senior economist Carsten Jung added that, although the COVID-19 pandemic was expected to leave the UK economy weaker, forward-looking policies could help the country bounce back in 2021.
"Making future-proof investments that tackle the climate crisis can boost business, generate jobs and provide people with income security," Jung said. "The UK can prove that an enduring, strong economic recovery is feasible, if only we grasp the plethora of business opportunities in low-carbon products and services."
"Scaling up investment and following the ten-point action plan can create up to 1.6 million jobs and bring economic opportunity to every corner of the country, while lowering emissions and restoring nature and tackling inequality," he said.