Now Reading
UK government sued for weak strategy – so here’s what makes a good climate change plan
[vc_row thb_full_width=”true” thb_row_padding=”true” thb_column_padding=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1608290870297{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][thb_postcarousel style=”style3″ navigation=”true” infinite=”” source=”size:6|post_type:post”][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

UK government sued for weak strategy – so here’s what makes a good climate change plan

A pilot light inside a gas boiler.


Two-thirdsMany countries have already committed to net zero greenhouse gases emissions by the end this century. The share of large companies that have net zero commitments increased from one in five to one percent in 2021.

Unfortunately, not all of these net zero targets were met with the necessary measures to achieve them. This discrepancy is becoming more frequent. Legal challenges. Courts have ordered the Netherlands and Germany governments, along with Shell oil major, to reduce their emissions faster.

Judges found that tepid weather strategies infringed upon the rights of young people by violating the Human Rights Act. Globally, climate-related court cases have doubled in number since 2015.

The UK is the latest country to have its government environment groups. suedfor not taking sufficient action to combat climate change. While the country’s net zero strategy deserves praise for some aspects – like setting a deadline to phase out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 – even the government’s climate change advisor thinks it won’t be enough to meet statutory carbon targets.

What is a good net zero strategy? A new strategy is needed. Perspective paperWe present a plan to achieve net zero. We believe net zero strategies should be evaluated against three principles: the urgent pursuit emission cuts, the prudent use of carbon offsets or carbon removal, as well as alignment with larger sustainable development goals.


Global temperature change is influenced by cumulative emissions. Therefore, it is important to reduce emissions as quickly as possible. The faster we wait, the less carbon space remains in the atmosphere.

It is essential that net zero strategies include measures to immediately reduce emissions. These measures are often vague or lacking. The UK strategy proposes, for instance, replacing gas boilers by heat pumps. It offers a support programOnly a small percentage of homes and buildings can use this feature.

A pilot light inside a gas boiler.
Gas boilers require urgent replacements that are low in carbon.

Emissions cuts must also include the most difficult sectors, such as agriculture, heavy industry, and aviation. They will require consumers to make difficult decisions, such as about how much they travel or what they eat. These are not usually included in net zero strategies.


Many governments and companies rely heavily upon carbon offsets in order to achieve net zero. They pay third parties to reduce their emissions, instead of reducing theirs. This could be done by funding renewable energy projects, or planting trees.

This presents a number of problems. It is difficult for offsets to be proven. Actually, reduce emissions. Many projects are funded through offsets It would have happened anyway. More stringent regulation is needed for the offset market.

More importantly, net zero requires AllTo reduce emissions. Offsets shouldn’t be used to allow pollution to continue unabated. They are only an option.

If a strategy includes using offsets, these offsets should remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than reduce emissions. This is the meaning of net zero – a balance between emissions and removal.

Most options for removing carbon are biotechnical, such as tree-planting. Technological solutions, such as capturing carbon directly from the air and storing it underground, are still at the pilot stage, and there are concerns about their cost and ability to safely store CO₂.

Volunteers carrying mangrove tree saplings in Malaysia.
Tree planting isn’t a get out of jail free card.
Farid Suhaimi/Shutterstock

Most modelled pathways for meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of averting dangerous climate change involve scaling up carbon removal. These techniques require more investment, but also stronger legal frameworks that ensure they are properly managed, and a public debate to ensure everyone is on board.


Net zero strategies don’t work in isolation. They must be integrated with wider environmental, social, and economic goals.

Without proactive management of the impacts of decarbonisation on workers, communities, and households, net zero strategies are doomed to fail. Labour market interventions, such as reskilling programmes, can help workers transition into low carbon employment. Social welfare payments can also protect households in poverty from rising energy prices. Both should be part of net zero strategies.

Climate action can bring many additional benefits to biodiversity, public health and food security. This is not always possible. Unintended consequences can occur when interventions are made. Commercial plantations of exotic species in naturally-treeless habitats may claim to store carbon. However, they could be a threat to native species, rob local communities of traditional livelihoods, or cause pests and disease.

Continue reading:
Tree planting can actually damage ecosystems

There are numerous economic opportunities that net zero strategies should try to capture. As information technology did 20 years ago, electric vehicles could unleash the same virtuous cycle as information technology. For example, investments in electric vehicles could be more immediate. Home energy efficiencyAnd renewable energycould be used to help the economy recover from the pandemic in an efficient and sustainable manner. Unfortunately, only Only a fraction of the economic recovery programs are availableGovernments have offered genuine green services.

It is scientific fact that net zero emissions are necessary. This is evident in the increase in net zero targets. They are still struggling with making net zero socially, economically, and politically meaningful, as the emergence court challenges shows.

But we are beginning understand How to get net zero right. If net zero is well interpreted, it could be the best hope that we have for climate change action.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?

Instead, receive a weekly roundup sent to your inbox. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 10,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.


View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.