WWF slaps UK carbon policy with 'E' grade

The UK may have been the first country to adopt a climate bill, but its failure to translate that legislation into meaningful medium-term policy has earned the country an ‘E’ grade in a major new study on European climate change policy to be released later today by WWF and green consultancy Ecofys.

The report, entitled the Climate Policy Tracker for the European Union, assesses the current state of climate policy in each of the EU’s member states and awards them an A to G grading.

It concluded that while the EU is widely regarded as having one of the world’s most ambitious climate change policies, it has still delivered only a third of the policy measures required to ensure it meets its goal of cutting emissions by 80 to 95 per cent by 2050.

The UK recorded a mixed bag of grades, securing a ‘B’ rating for the long-term certainty delivered by the Climate Change Act, but lagging behind France, Sweden and Ireland on transport policy and Denmark on buildings policy.

For example, the report notes that while the UK is working on zero-carbon standards for new buildings, it still lacks significant support for existing buildings. Similarly, it reiterates complaints made by the renewable energy industry and the CBI that planning barriers and problems with grid access are slowing the rollout of low-carbon energy projects.

As a result, the country was awarded an ‘E’ rating overall, despite the relative strength of its carbon targets and agricultural policy.

“The UK like all member states needs to scan its full policy portfolios to address the weaknesses that show up in this report, especially in transport and energy efficiency,” said Keith Allott, WWF-UK’s head of climate change. “It is, however, encouraging to see the UK leading Europe with its Climate Change Act which, if implemented properly, should guide the transition to a clean, carbon-free economy.”

Niklas Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at Ecofys, said the report highlighted the need for greater levels of co-operation between member states on the development of low-carbon policy.

“There are success stories in each country and policy makers should learn from best practices across Europe,” he said. “Overall, however, the ratings are low. Support for renewable energy is most widely implemented across Europe and shows the most progress, while energy efficiency, transport and industry are lagging behind.”

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