Climate pledges will fail without financial backing

Climate promises are destined to fail without Treasury commitment, warns WWF. 

As the UK prepares to host COP26, WWF is urging the Chancellor to ensure that the UK delivers on its climate promises. 

WWF is launching the second phase of its Net Zero Test, which assesses whether the UK Government is spending public money on green policies or on polluting ones. 

Applied for the first time to the March 2021 Budget, the test demonstrated that measures did not align with the government’s legally binding net-zero commitment and in fact increased the UK’s net emissions by 16.4 Mt CO2e over a six-year period, equivalent to 5% of 2020 UK emissions. 

The test also finds that the cost of inaction clearly outweighs the cost of action.

Acting now will halve the overall cost of decarbonisation, in comparison to action in a decade’s time.

woman holding Planet over Profit placard

WWF highlights that by avoiding delay, the Government can unleash a wave of green private sector investment and deliver the levelling up agenda, unlocking £90bn worth of annual benefits, including high-quality green jobs and export opportunities, warmer homes, and more green space for everyone. 

To demonstrate international leadership, WWF is asking the UK Government to commit to applying a full Net Zero Test, involving both budget tagging and emissions estimates, to all future Budgets and Spending Reviews. 

Isabella O’Dowd, head of climate change at WWF, said: ‘Our world is our one shared home, but it’s on the brink of irreversible harm. The COP26 climate conference will prove a critical test of whether governments can deliver on their climate promises. The UK Government cannot stand by its commitments unless spending is aligned with its plan to reduce emissions.  

‘What’s right for the planet is right for the public purse and the Chancellor can lead from the front by introducing a Net Zero Test for all future fiscal events. Building a greener future now will save us all money in the long term and is full of opportunities for better jobs, improved health and a thriving nature.  

‘We won’t forget which leaders step up to meet the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced, and which shrink away.’

Photo by Markus Spiske