Upgrading white paper: Environment campaigners slam government plan that ‘dismisses’ net zero and climate targets

Green campaigners argue that climate and nature goals must be at the forefront of strategy to seriously improve the UK

Environmental activists have criticized the government for not emphasizing the need to achieve net zero emissions in the leveling strategy.

They argue that green investment would not only save money, but would also benefit the most economically disadvantaged communities across the country through jobs and by protecting them from extreme weather conditions.

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Despite this, the government’s plan did not include any move away from costly reliance on gas or to insulate drafty-prone homes.

NationalWorld interviewed activists to get their reaction on the upgrade strategy and why climate goals are key to creating more opportunity.

Did the upgrading strategy include environmental policies?

Although the Leveling Up white paper includes a section on the UK‘s transition to Net Zero, it is not among the government’s 12 main “missions” to be accomplished by 2030.

In the newspaper published on Wednesday February 2, the evocation of the transition to net zero and the green industrial revolution comes second.

The government has pledged £26bn of capital investment.

Green analysts argued it was unclear, however, where the money for it came from and how it would be spent.

Activists are also concerned about financing the transformation of brownfields (areas that were previously developed).

As part of the mission to restore local pride, the government has scrapped the ’80/20 rule’ which it says leads to directing 80% of housing supply funding to ‘maximum accessibility areas’ “.

Instead, the bulk of the £1.8billion brownfields funding will be diverted to transforming these sites in the North and Midlands.

However, building on more brownfields presents problems because they are important places for endangered wildlife, campaigners say.

The plans did not include any green stimulus or a shift to a low-carbon foundation to level the country.

What do environmental activists think of the upgrade strategy?

Advocates are concerned that there is not enough emphasis on net zero in the Leveling Up white paper.

Katie White, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF, said: “We are facing a climate and natural disaster and to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of all, we should pull all the levers to accelerate the transition to net zero.

“It must be at the heart of UK government policy, but it has been left out of the White Paper.”

Mike Childs, Policy Officer at Friends of the Earth, said: “The government’s lack of vision and foresight is very troubling.

“Any plan to level the country must reflect the inevitable reality we face, and that means putting climate at the heart of any government strategy.”

Josh Bloodworth, a Liverpool-based climate campaigner, said: “Much like this government’s climate record, their upgrade plans can be described with the simple phrase ‘blah blah blah’.

“There is a complete disconnect between their rhetoric in diagnosing the problem, the level of their ambitions in their solutions and the reality of the policies they implement.

“With each interval, they stabilize.”

Bloodworth also criticizes the government for its lack of attention to environmental issues which are “good for getting up to speed”.

He added: ‘Missions talk about improving life expectancy, well-being and pride in being at home, but this is not related to the benefits of warm homes, green spaces and reduction of air pollution.

“By properly insulating and electrifying homes, we can simultaneously reduce energy bills, house emissions and create well-paying green jobs for young people in the process.”

What has been the reaction of the renewable energy sector?

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said she was “disappointed” that the strategy did not focus on net zero.

“I think this is a missed opportunity, but I hope that the measures included will still be subject to a ‘net zero test’, contributing to the establishment of regional low-carbon economies, adapted to the future,” she said.

Dr Skorupska said the renewable energy sector could be the “catalyst” for the government’s upgrade plans, and the transition is needed more than ever due to the current energy crisis.

“Amid a deepening cost of living crisis – in part due to volatile fossil fuel prices – the need to accelerate the energy transition has never been greater,” she said. declared.

She added: “It is clear that the best way to protect households against rising energy bills is to expand the installation of home systems of renewable and clean technologies, to insulate homes as quickly as possible and to provide new housing stock suitable for net zero. future.

“I hope the government will seek to reassess its position, put net zero at the heart of its leveling agenda, and build a fairer, more sustainable and more prosperous economy.”

How can climate goals create opportunities across the country?

WWF’s Katie White stresses the importance of climate and nature goals to help make the UK serious.

“If this government wants its promise to create meaningful opportunities for communities across the UK to be taken seriously, then climate and nature goals must be at the center of public and private investment to improve the UK,” said Ms. White.

“Investing in the green transition will not only save money down the line, but communities across the UK will now see direct benefits – well-paying green jobs, many in previously neglected communities, better public transport and warmer homes,” she added. .

Mike Childs, policy manager at Friends of the Earth, said: “The failure to put net zero at the heart of the leveling agenda shows that this government still does not understand how climate breakdown will disproportionately impact people. inhabitants of the most economically parts of the UK. disadvantaged areas.

“Floods, storms and heat waves hit the poorest the hardest, because paying to insure homes or make them more resilient is simply not an option for many people.”

He added: “Hundreds of thousands of green jobs are also needed in areas such as renewable energy, restoring nature and improving the energy efficiency of homes, but ministers have failed to take advantage of this huge opportunity to bring prosperity and jobs where they are needed most.

Joe Tetlow, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: ‘We must now see a decade of action from the government to rebalance the economy and deliver on the UK’s environmental commitments.

“But more needs to be done to tap into the huge job potential across the country to restore our natural environment and build a circular economy.”

The Department of Upgrading, Housing and Communities has been contacted for comment.

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