An independent scientific audit of the UK’s climate change policies predicts that the government will fall well below its target of a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 – which means that the country will not reach its 2020 milestone until 2050.
The report condemns government forecasts on greenhouse gas emissions as “very optimistic” and projects that the true reduction will be between 12 and 17%, making little difference to current CO2 emission levels.
Critics of the government’s record on climate change argue that despite the green-friendly rhetoric, it has failed to deliver sufficient reductions. ‘The policies are all going in the right direction and are all relatively well thought out, they just have to be enforced’, said Mark Maslin, director of University College London’s Environment Institute and one of the audit study’s authors. “In most sectors all the policies at the moment are voluntary. So basically nobody bothers.”
In the domestic energy sector, one much-trumpeted government policy is a set of new building regulations to make all new homes built after 2016 “zero carbon”. However, the UCL auditors are sceptical that this policy will deliver because of poor enforcement.
The researchers also believe domestic energy consumption will continue to rise faster than the government predicts due to demand for more energy intensive products, such as plasma televisions.
The report was commissioned for Channel 4’s Dispatches.