Think tank calls for more spending to hit net zero

The Institute for Public Policy Research think tank has warned the UK is off course to meet its own net zero carbon ambitions by 2050 and restore nature.

The body’s recent analysis reveals thatover the course of this Parliament the government has committed to investing just 12 per cent of what is needed to meet their net zero emissions target. The think tank estimates that £33bn a year in additional annual investment is needed to meet the net zero target, but only around £4bn annually has so far been committed.

The Green Homes grant, investment in cycling, walking infrastructure and in offshore wind announced earlier this year show the government is moving in the right policy direction, but action at a greater scale and pace is needed, according to IPPR.

Researchers argue that as the hosts of the COP26 global climate talks, the UK has the opportunity to lead the world in efforts to cut carbon emissions, restore nature and champion green alternatives for industry, travel and energy. IPPR highlights key areas for investment, where the government needs to go further, such as:

• decarbonising homes and buildings- four times the annual spending announced by the Chancellor in the summer would be needed to achieve this;

• low-carbon transport– an additional £10.3bn is needed a year to improve public transport services and efficiency, as well as boosting cycling and walking.

As England experiences its second lockdown and the country continues its uncertain fight against Covid-19, now is not the time to ignore the climate and nature emergencies or scale back green investment plans, warns IPPR.

The think tank calls on the government to use its forthcoming ten-point plan to set out an ambitious investment package that accelerates us towards net-zero and a thriving natural world. IPPR has previously calculated that1.6m jobs could be created up to 2030 through green investment, including in:

• homes and buildings- improving the energy efficiency of homes, preparing them for the switch to low-carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps and district heating, and building new zero-carbon social housing could generate 560,000 jobs. IPPR estimates suggest an additional £8bn annually is needed to achieve the decarbonisation of existing homes and buildings.

• nature restoration– an investment of £4.7bn annually could help nature thrive through schemes such as tree planting and peatland restoration across the country. This could also create 46,000 new jobs.

• transport- delivering better and more sustainable public transport, including rail and electric bus services could generate more than 230,000 jobs. While installing electric vehicles charging points nationwide could create 47,000 jobs. IPPR estimates £10.3bn a year will be needed for this.

• industry – providing financial support for carbon capture and storage and hydrogen clusters (a network of green hydrogen refuelling stations) will be critical to reaching net zero. An upfront investment of £1.5bn a year is needed to develop and apply this technology.

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