Climate Assembly calls for a fair path to net-zero

The UK path to net-zero must be underpinned by education, choice, fairness and political consensus, says the Climate Assembly in their final report published today (September 10).  

Earlier this year, six Select Committees from the House of Commons commissioned a Citizens Assembly on Climate Change to understand the public preference on how the UK should tackle climate change.

The report published today is the culmination of more than 6,000 hours of Assembly sessions and represents the views of 108 committee members.

How we travel on land, from passenger cars to public transport accounts for 23% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In a bid to reduce these emissions, the assembly members have recommended bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, a reduction in the amount we all use of our cars and improved public transport to aid this.

Air travel accounts for 7% of the UK’s total GHG emissions, to reduce this, the assembly has called for an acceleration of technological progress to decarbonise this industry.

They have also recommended that the cost of air travel should be evened out compared to alternatives, and quite controversially, they have suggested that frequent fliers and those who fly further should pay more.

Beyond travel, the assembly also looked at the residential sector. Reducing GHG emissions from this sector means implementing changes to the use of heating, hot water and electricity in the home.

Although the committee has highlighted that house retrofits will be necessary, they have said that there should be efforts to minimise the disruption these cause on homes, and they have emphasised that the government should ensure that increased financial support is available.

When it comes to food, farming and land-use, the committee all agreed that there must be changes in our diets to reduce the amount of meat and dairy consumed.

They have also called for more of a focus on local produce and local food production, as well as a managed diversity of land use, including further protections for woodlands and peatlands.

As we recover from COVID-19, there have been lots of promises of a ‘green economic recovery.’

79% of the committee members were in support of this and they have called on the government to ensure that steps taken to help the economy recover should also be in line with the net-zero emissions target.

Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, Darren Jones MP, has commented on the report: ‘This is an extremely important contribution to the debate on how the UK reaches our net-zero target and I hope it gives impetus to policymakers to take bold action to reduce our emissions.

‘The range of voices within these pages reflects our population.

‘It is vital that Parliament and Government examine and use the recommendations which the Assembly sets out today.

Assembly members agree that the task of reaching net-zero is a responsibility shared by all generations and we thank them for doing just that, giving up their time to listen, understand, debate and propose solutions which are underpinned by a desire to be fair to everyone in our society, and to retain freedom and choice for individuals and local areas wherever possible.’

The committees behind the report have asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to respond before the end of the year.

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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