The UK government’s official climate advisors have said that their preparations to deal with rising temperatures are completely inadequate and compared them to the bumbling characters in the 1970s sitcom Dad’s Army.
The government’s official climate change advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have warned that ministers are failing to cut carbon emissions fast enough and have no plans in place to protect people from the effects of global heating, like flash flooding and heatwaves, UK media report.
The CCC’s annual progress report, published this Wednesday, was damning in its criticism. It found that just one of the 25 emissions-cutting policies set out in 2018 had been delivered in full. Lord Debden, the chair of the committee, warned ministers that if the failure to act continued they could be sued in court.
“The whole thing is run by the government like a Dad’s Army. We can’t possibly go on with this ramshackle system; it doesn’t begin to face the issues. It is a real threat to the population,” Debden said.
Chris Stark, the CCC chief executive, said the government should prepare for the worst-case scenario predicted by scientists of a 4C rise in global temperatures by the end of the century and warned: “there are no areas where the government is planning properly.”
The CCC warned that the UK is not even prepared for a more modest 2C rise in global temperatures and has made no plans to deal with changes in the suitability of land for agriculture and forestry or the colonisation of new species that climate change would mean.
Empty Promises with Little Action
Despite outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to lead the world by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the reality is that nothing has been put in place to achieve this.
The CCC said that government was already stumbling over its earlier target of an 80% emissions cut.
The CCC pointed out that funding to help regions, businesses, and people to adapt to climate change had dried up, the number of officials working on adapting to the changing climate had fallen from several dozen in 2013 to a handful by 2018 and that ministers have failed to even begin communicating with the public about how they need to change their behaviour, such as by eating less meat and using less water.
The CCC also said the government has failed in its tree planting targets every year since they were introduced in 2013 and has stopped subsidies and introduced planning hurdles for onshore wind farms.
The only areas the CCC found the UK to be on target was in planning for flood prevention and phasing out coal burning power stations. Since 1990 the UK has cut emissions faster than any other G7 country, but this was largely due to a relatively simple switch from coal to gas electricity generation and the sudden growth of offshore wind farms.
A UK government spokesman insisted that Britain is a world leader in cutting emissions: “We know there is more to do. We’ll set out plans in the coming months to tackle emissions from aviation, heat, energy, and transport as well as further measures to protect the environment from extreme weather including flood protection, tree planting, and peatland management.”
The UK is pushing to hold a hugely important UN global climate summit next year, but the CCC said that unless the government starts to deliver on its climate promises then it would be unfit to hold it.
Environmental groups have been scathing at the government’s inaction and empty promises.
“This is a truly brutal reality check on the government’s current progress in tackling the climate emergency. It paints the government as a sleeper who’s woken up, seen the house is on fire, raised the alarm and gone straight back to sleep,” said Doug Parr, from Greenpeace UK, in a statement.
While Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth said: “Theresa May keeps talking about the need for climate action while giving the green light to fracking and more roads and runways. Billions of pounds are being squandered on gas-guzzling developments, while trams, trains, buses, and cycling are starved of investment.”