The UK will miss its climate change target unless it takes urgent action, according to a committee of MPs.
It has warned that cutbacks and slow progress on climate change policy threatens the government’s ability to meet the target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The target of cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 was passed into law earlier this year. Net-zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
The commons science and technology committee pointed to 10 areas in which government policy has delayed, cut back or undermined carbon reductions.
They include cuts to grants for low emissions cars, the freezing of fuel duty while train and bus fares have risen and the restriction and removal of policies to improve the energy efficiency of homes.
Chairman of the committee, Norman Lamb MP, said the Government was not putting in place the policies that were needed to meet its climate targets.
He said: “We need to see the Government put its words into actions.
“We heard of cutbacks in various programmes and slow progress, which are incompatible with the UK’s two upcoming, legally binding, carbon budgets – this is unacceptable.
“If governments across the world fail to act, it will have dire consequences for the environment and generations to come.”
According to the report, meeting the target needs efforts to cut carbon emissions from heating systems, improve home energy efficiency, tackle vehicle pollution, support onshore wind and solar power and sustain nuclear power without growing the industry.
To meet the ambition of virtually all cars and vans being low carbon by 2050 will require 20,000 new registrations a week on average, compared to 1,200 ultra-low emissions vehicles registered each week in 2018.
Climate change solutions mean revolution for our daily lives
Climate change will affect all of us in the coming years, and so will the solutions
The committee echoed calls for the government to bring forward a ban on the sale of new conventional cars and vans planned for 2040 to 2035 at the latest, and for it to explicitly cover hybrid vehicles.
It also called for moves to tackle emissions from car manufacturing, and urged greater efforts to reduce vehicle ownership, boost public transport and car sharing, as well as walking and cycling.
The report also said the government must commit now to large-scale trials of low carbon heating technology such as heat pumps, and replacing natural gas with hydrogen.
A policy to make new homes “zero carbon”, which was scrapped before it was implemented in 2016, should be urgently reintroduced and incentives are needed to encourage people to make energy efficiency improvements.
A government spokesman said: “From transport to heating, electricity to agriculture, we are working to put in place the right measures to help us tackle global warming.
“We welcome the committee’s report and will consider its findings.
“We are going further and faster to tackle climate change than any other major economy, having legislated for net-zero emissions by 2050.”