The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has outlined its programme of work for 2022, promising a focus on “delivery and implementation” and the provision of additional guidance on business action, investment and finance.
A new blog from CCC chief executive Chris Stark reads: “The UK’s climate goals have been substantially reset, so the focus moves to delivery and implementation.
“Ministers have made clear that the lion’s share of progress will be made by the private sector, led by Government. So that is where the CCC’s attention must also turn: private sector delivery and implementation of the public policies to underpin it.”
The blog promises “new advice that will differ substantially from our output of recent years”.
The CCC will continue to produce annual progress reports for the UK as a whole, as well as for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The UK’s report will notably include further analysis of the widely criticised Net Zero Strategy. The Committee will also continue to provide sector-specific policy recommendations concerning high-emitting and hard-to-abate sectors including buildings, heavy industry, energy supply and transport.
New for 2022, however, will be additional insights for the private sector. The CCC has pledged to work with businesses to garner what support they would like to see from the Government, and to draw up new recommendations on the development of credible corporate climate commitments.
To this latter point, the New Climate Institute and Carbon Market Watch published a report assessing the credibility of corporate net-zero targets earlier this month, garnering much media attention. Assessing the commitments of 25 large businesses, the research found that most are not science-based and will leave businesses turning to offsetting to address more than half of their emissions footprint.
The CCC will draw up insights on corporate commitments for investors and the wider sector as well as end-user businesses. Stark has called business and finance “cross-economy enablers” of the net-zero transition.
Also promised in Stark’s blog are new advisory briefings on engaging the public with the net-zero transition and ensuring a just transition in terms of how the costs and benefits of the transition are shared.
Both of these issues have featured heavily in the news in recent weeks amid the ongoing energy price crisis and the resulting renewed pushback against net-zero from within certain factions of the Conservative Party. Energy analysts have been pushing back against a slew of disinformation on coal, fracking, domestic gas production and environmental and social levies on bills.
Research has repeatedly shown that the UK’s general public is concerned about the climate crisis and that most people want to help the transition. However, the Government has been asked, time and again – including by the CCC – to better support and inform them to undertake behaviour changes. The bulk of the UK’s decarbonisation to date has been driven by the power generation sector and heavy industry, meaning that people have not seen huge changes in their daily lives. Action in sectors like heat, buildings, transport and food will be more visible.
Also promised by the CCC for 2022 is a new briefing on workers and skills. The UK Government is targeting two million jobs by 2030 but current commitments would deliver less than half of this level. The UK also does not, at present, have a formally agreed definition of what constitutes a green job.
The briefing on jobs and skills will come before large businesses in high-emitting sectors will be required to publish net-zero transition plans, outlining how they intend to decarbonise, how this will affect workers and communities and the steps set to be taken to address these challenges. That requirement will come into force in spring 2023.