Caroline Lucas, Green Party Co-Leader, has branded the government’s Clean Growth Strategy “a blueprint for underachievement”.
The strategy, published in October, sets out how the government intends to maintain its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act. Fifty proposals for ‘clean growth’ cover energy, transport, agriculture and waste and reveal a planned investment of over £2.5 billion in low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021.
Ambitions outlined in the strategy include an end to the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040 - although there are no plans to rethink airport growth. Energy proposals include a reaffirming of the target to phase out coal by 2025, though Lucas sees “serious shortcomings” in the lack of significant attention to onshore wind, solar or tidal energy.
The new measures also involve an investment of around £460 million towards innovation in nuclear power, which Lucas strongly criticised: “It’s absurd to see the government ploughing more than half of the low carbon innovation fund in nuclear, when we should be doubling down on the incredible progress in truly renewable energy. There is no role for overpriced, dirty nuclear power in an energy system fit for the future.”
Evidence in the strategy suggests that the UK will not meet its target emissions reductions for the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, covering 2023 to 2032. Lucas said: “While some of the aspirations in the document certainly move us in the right direction, they don’t go far enough to shift the UK to a zero carbon future.
“The government has blown this enormous opportunity to put Britain on track to meet its climate target. This should have been a greenprint for an economy fit for the future, but instead this looks like a blueprint for underachievement.”