Climate Change Annual Report published

The Climate Change Committee has this week published its 2023 Progress Report to Parliament. The statutory report provides a comprehensive overview of the UK Government’s progress to date in reducing emissions. 
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The Climate Change Committee has this week published its 2023 Progress Report to Parliament. The statutory report provides a comprehensive overview of the UK Government’s progress to date in reducing emissions. 

The UK has set legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, meaning the country will no longer contribute any additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. 

The report identifies several key areas for the government to consider when working to reduce emissions and work towards net zero targets. 

  • A lack of urgency. While the policy framework has continued to develop over the past year, this is not happening at the required pace for future targets. 
  • Stay firm on existing commitments and move to delivery. The Government has made a number of strong commitments, these must be restated and moved as swiftly as possible towards delivery. 
  • Retake a clear leadership role internationally. The UK will need to regain its international climate leadership. 
  • Immediate priority actions and policies. Action is needed in a range of areas to deliver on the Government’s emissions pathway. 
  • Develop demand-side and land use policies. The Government’s current strategy has considerable delivery risks due to its over-reliance on specific technological solutions, some of which have not yet been deployed at scale. 
  • Empower and inform households and communities to make low-carbon choices. Despite some positive steps to provide households with advice on reducing energy use in the last year, a coherent public engagement strategy on climate action is long overdue. 
  • Planning policy needs radical reform to support Net Zero. The planning system must have an overarching requirement that all planning decisions must be taken giving full regard to the imperative of Net Zero. 
  • Expansion of fossil fuel production is not in line with Net Zero. As well as pushing forward strongly with new low-carbon industries, Net Zero also makes it necessary to move away from high-carbon developments. 
  • The need for a framework to manage airport capacity. There has been continued airport expansion in recent years, counter to our assessment that there should be no net airport expansion across the UK. 

Climate change and biomass 

The plus 400-page report makes some key recommendations and there is a strong focus on biomass, including urgency in the publication of the much anticipated Biomass Strategy. 

This year’s report has downgraded the CCC’s assessment of policy progress relative to last year, reflecting the Government’s decision to approve a new coal mine, the continued delay of the Biomass Strategy, and new risks identified around the Government’s level of hydrogen ambition. 

While the Strategy is proposed for publication in 2023, the report suggests the absence of the strategy is leading to significant uncertainty on plans and ambitions for bioenergy and it should be published urgently. The CCC report continues that the published strategy needs to be integrated into the Land Use Framework, set out mechanisms to support sustainable expansion on domestic biomass supply, demonstrate how bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) will be rapidly deployed and inform the best use of bioenergy resources. This needs to fully account for sustainability (including impacts on nature) and food security concerns. 

Additionally, Scotland’s Bioenergy Action Plan is due to be published in 2023. The report suggests that this should set out an understanding of the impact and interaction between biomass demand and land use and agriculture in Scotland. 

The Strategy must ensure biomass used in the UK, whether grown domestically or imported from abroad, adheres to strict sustainability criteria, including no net loss of biodiversity

At government level, the report identifies Defra and DESNZ as two of the key players to drive forward policy for biomass, with primary responsibility with Defra. 

Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart said in response to the report that the government had met all its carbon targets to date and was confident of doing so in the future. Responding to criticism for continued support for oil and gas projects, it was stressed that despite an unprecedented role for renewables, the UK would remain dependent on these sources for power generation for the foreseeable future. 

HETAS and Woodsure continue their work in supporting both government departments on policy work in relation to domestic burning, net zero and climate change. 


Read the full report

You can view the key messages and download the full report on the CCC website.  


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