This statutory report provides a comprehensive overview of the UK Government’s progress in reducing emissions, and describes the CCC's most critical and alarming findings to date.

Treading water is not an option with climate change, as most people understand: standing still actually means falling back. The Climate Change Committee has found that the UK can no longer rest on its COP26 laurels.

The CCC’s  June 2023 report demonstrates how we have regressed on a number of fronts: fewer homes were insulated through Government schemes than last year; there has been little progress on transport emissions; there is no programme for behaviour change and wind and solar developments have been proceeding at a snail’s pace. The CCC especially blamed a failure of political leadership and insufficient plans, for the stalled progress.

It is the case that following last year’s High Court ruling, the UK Government has now published the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan (CBDP), providing much greater transparency on its Net Zero plans, but despite over 3,000 pages of new detail, the CCC’s said its confidence in the UK meeting its goals from 2030 onwards has 'markedly declined from last year', prompting statements of concern from business leaders and the government's own climate experts.

To paraphrase from the report:

At COP26, a stretching 2030 commitment was made to reduce carbon emissions by 68%. In barely seven years, the recent rate of annual emissions reduction outside the electricity supply sector must therefore quadruple. Glimmers of the Net Zero transition can be seen in growing sales of new electric cars and the continued deployment of renewable capacity, but the scale up of action overall is worryingly slow. The Government continues to place their reliance on technological solutions that have not been deployed at scale, in preference to more straightforward encouragement of people to reduce high-carbon activities. The Committee has again flagged the risks of a policy programme that amongst other things is too slow to plant trees and roll-out heat pumps.


The CCC’s top level comments include:


  • The UK has sent confusing signals on its climate priorities to the global community. Support for new oil and gas, beyond the immediate increase in gas production demanded by the Ukraine invasion, and the decision to consent a new coal mine in Cumbria have raised global attention and undermined the careful language negotiated by the UK COP26 Presidency in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
  • Support is lacking for decarbonised industry in a new era of global competition. Government has high ambitions for decarbonised steel production but has no clear policy to deliver it. Wider incentives are still needed for electrification of industry. The recent announcement of up to £20 billion funding for carbon capture and storage is welcome, but detail and implementation of these spending plans is still to come.
  • Rapid reform to planning is necessary. In a range of areas, the deployment of essential upgrades to the electricity grid and other Net Zero infrastructure is being stymied by restrictive planning rules. The planning system should have an overarching requirement to ensure planning decisions give full regard to Net Zero.
  • Changing use of land takes time. Essential reforms have progressed, through the new Environmental Land Management policy, but Defra must step up rates of tree planting and peatland restoration and introduce a new framework for land use change.
  • The Government does not expect to make a strategic decision on the role of hydrogen in heating until 2026. It must overcome this uncertainty by accelerating deployment of electric heating and pressing ahead with low-regret energy infrastructure decisions.
  • The list of UK airports proposing to expand capacity continues to grow, counter to the Committee’s advice that there should be no net airport expansion across the UK. A UK-wide capacity management framework is needed to manage these decisions. No airport expansions should proceed until this is in place.


Update 2nd August 2023: The introduction to this blog has been edited to increase political balance. The summary of the CCC’s findings is unchanged.