- 2023 is set to be the world’s hottest year on record.
- The world is headed for a temperature rise of 2.6°C.
- UK net zero rollbacks risk killing ambition at COP28.
- New report calls for end to politicisation of net zero.
- More than 700 leading stakeholders consulted.
2023 is likely to be the world’s hottest year on record[i]. However, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The UN’s first comprehensive stocktake of global efforts to limit warming have concluded that the world is headed for a temperature rise of up to 2.6°C[ii]. The Climate Change Committee warn that recent UK net zero rollbacks risk hampering crucial COP28 international climate talks next month.[iii]
Today Greener Vision publishes a report calling for a new approach to tackling the climate crisis. Building on consultations with more than 700 local leaders, businesses, academics and environmental and user groups, the report argues we won’t solve our most difficult problems with the same thinking that created them. We need more holistic thinking and an approach that creates unity rather than division.
On 20th September Prime Minister Rishi Sunak scaled down of some of the UK’s biggest net zero commitments including plans to phase out the installation of new gas boilers and delaying a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans[iv]. The move signaled that net zero will be used by the Conservatives as a “wedge” issue with Labour in the run up to the next election.
Sunak has been widely criticised by businesses for putting the UK’s economic prosperity and energy security at risk and damaging inward investment.[v] Last week the government’s own climate advisors have challenged the government to provide evidence to support its claim that the UK remains on track to achieve the net zero targets.
Having “run the numbers” the Climate Change Committee (CCC) conclude that the scale back of key policies make targets even harder to achieve and undermine the UK’s position as a global climate leader. Since the Climate Change Act of 2008 and net zero legislation of 2019, the UK has previously been seen as a world leader on climate policy.
It is unclear whether Sunak will be rewarded by voters. The CCC say the measures are “likely to increase both energy costs and motoring costs for households”. A recent survey found that 71 per cent of people who voted Conservative in 2019, but who have since switched to Labour, said they supported the UK’s 2050 net zero target.[vi]
The net zero rollbacks followed the Conservatives unexpected win in the Uxbridge & West Ruislip byelection, which was defined by a fight over expanding London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ0. Sunak has said he is “on the side of the motorist” and published a “long-term plan to back drivers”[vii], which includes a clampdown on 20mph limits, bus lanes, low-traffic neighbourhoods and the ability of councils to fine drivers who commit offences.
Sunak faces a further test this week. Voters go to the polls in the Tamworth and Mid- Bedfordshire byelections on Thursday 19th October.
Claire Haigh, Founder & CEO of Greener Vision commented:
“When the Prime Minister made his net zero speech on 20th September, he smashed the UK’s highly cherished cross-party consensus on climate change.
“We cannot afford for net zero to be politicised in this way. Climate change is our greatest existential threat and a global problem requiring unprecedented levels of cooperation. We need an approach to net zero that builds unity not division.
“The world needs the UK to continue to be a climate leader. We urge the Prime Minister to take the politics out of net zero.”
Greener Vision: The Art of Seeing is published on Thursday 19th October 2023.
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Notes to Editors
1 – About the Report
Greener Vision: The Art of Seeing investigates how our approach to tackling the climate crisis needs to change. Building on the thought leadership programmes run by Greener Vision, the report also draws on The Tabula Project, a creative project which started with the assumption that we won’t solve our most intractable problems with the same thinking that created them in the first place. The report concludes that climate policy should be informed by five Pillars of Unity:
- ‘A sacred unity of the biosphere’ – We need a radical realignment of how we perceive ourselves in relation to others and the environment on which we depend. This will require the creation of fairer and more equitable economic systems that allow both humans and the environment to thrive.
- See the whole picture – we need greater honesty and transparency in decision-making, and to become more self-aware. Climate change exposes our tendency to see only what we want to see. Are the assumptions underpinning climate policies fit for purpose? What are we not seeing, or choosing not to see?
- Integrate heart and mind – we need to engage our emotional brains in climate change. Rational scientific data loses out against a compelling emotional story that speaks to people’s values. The tendency to separate thoughts and feelings causes confusion and does not lead to good decision making.
- Heal the whole system – we need to address the root causes of climate change: our addiction to fossil fuels. Too much attention is given to treating symptoms and not enough to the system. We need a whole systems transition to net zero. Pricing properly for carbon is a fundamental building block.
- Citizens of One World – we need to connect with our natural empathy and respect for each other and all living species. Climate change is a global intergenerational problem requiring unprecedented levels of cooperation. We must internalise the new zero-sum: either we all win, or we all lose.
2 – About the Thought Leadership programmes
Greener Vision spearheaded two thought leadership programmes to explore what would be a credible and politically deliverable framework for decarbonising transport. More than 700 leading academics, local and national politicians, senior civil servants, business leaders, environmental and user groups and consultants participated:
- “Rising the Challenge: What will it take to decarbonise transport?” (2021) The first series of webinars concluded that technological solutions will be insufficient and urgent attention must be given to traffic reduction. Keynote speakers included: Lord Deben, then Chair of the Climate Change Committee; Huw Merriman MP, then Chair of the Transport Select Committee (now Rail Minister); and Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of North Tyne.
- “Pathways to Net Zero” (2022-23) The second series of reports and roundtables sought to identify solutions to deliver emissions reductions at the scale and pace needed to hit net zero in the UK. The series concluded that we need a radical shift in terms of how we think about decarbonising transport and a whole-systems transition to net zero with energy demand reduction at its heart.
3 – About Greener Vision
Greener Vision is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging the switch to a greener future. The Foundation for Integrated Transport provides grant funding to support the Greener Vision’s work, and the Pathways to Net Zero and Rising to the Challenge thought leadership programmes. www.greener-vision.com
[i] Carbon Brief estimates with 3 months remaining there is a greater than 99% chance that 2023 will be the hottest year since records began in the mid-1800s and likely for millennia before: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-greater-than-99-chance-2023-will-be-hottest-year-on-record/
Copernicus Climate Change Service estimates 2023 will be the warmest year on record: https://climate.copernicus.eu/copernicus-september-2023-unprecedented-temperature-anomalies
NOAA modelling indicates a 50% chance that 2023 will be the hottest year on record and a 99% chance that it will rank amongst the 5 warmest years on record: https://www.noaa.gov/news/world-just-sweltered-through-its-hottest-august-on-record
[vi] The poll commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) found that almost 71 per cent of people who voted Conservative in 2019, but which have since switched to Labour, said they supported the UK’s 2050 net zero target. The survey, which took in the views of over 1,500 people, also found that two-thirds – 66 per cent – of all UK voters supported the net zero goal, compared to 24 per cent of those who said they opposed the target. Polling conducted by Focaldata on 27th September 2023 of 1579 GB adults
About the Author
This post was written by Greener Vision.