Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally published his strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The Government has left it to the last minute to set out how it will meet its net zero carbon target by 2050, with days to go before the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.
The Tories claim the UK will be a world leader on tackling climate change, but how does their plan stack up and is there a sting in the tail for you?
The PM says the UK is on course to "build back greener" from the Covid pandemic, but Labour has said that between "pages of plans, strategies and hot air, there is still a chasm between the rhetoric and the reality".
We weed out the hidden nasties buried in the Government's climate blueprint.
1. We don't know how much it'll all cost
Documents released by Rishi Sunak's Treasury fail to give a figure for the overall cost of reaching net zero by 2050 would be - or the benefits.
But critics are most worried about the scale of under-investment.
The strategy so far includes £90bn of investment in the next decade, most of it from the private sector, in what the Government claims will create 440,000 jobs.
Image:Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
But it estimates a staggering £670bn of combined private and public investment will be needed between 2026 and 2037.
While many hope more investment is in the pipeline, Shadow Environment Secretary Ed Miliband said the climate plan appears "torpedoed by the Treasury" and ministers have offered "a tiny fraction "of what is needed to meet the challenge.
Labour's Rachel Reeves pledging to match-fund private sector investment with up to £28bn-a-year of public funds. This would commit the party to spending £224bn on climate measures over the next eight years.
2. More tax hikes and price rises on the cards
Despite Boris Johnson's manifesto pledge not to raise taxes, the Government admits the task of the UK's transition to net zero, in the wake of Covid, means tax hikes cannot be avoided.
The Treasury document spells it out in black and white: “Overall, a combination of tax, regulation, spending and other facilitative levers will be required," it says.
Some new technologies needed for the switch to net zero - such as heat pumps - are significantly more expensive, but the Government is pinning its hopes on prices falling as markets scale up.
Treasury documents say that “as with all economic transitions, ultimately the costs and benefits of the transition will pass through to households through the labour market, prices and asset values”.
Image:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)
The review, published alongside the Government’s net zero strategy, said it was not possible to forecast how individual household finances would be hit over the course of a 30-year transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
3. A nuclear power plant not agreed for years
The plan vows to “secure a final investment decision on a large-scale nuclear plant by the end of this Parliament”.
That will mean a large-scale nuclear plant - possibly on the Sizewell site - is finally built anew in Britain.
But nuclear plants take years to assemble, and the end of the Parliament could still be two and a half years away before work even begins.
Meanwhile the plan vows to launch “a new £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, retaining options for future nuclear technologies, including Small Modular Reactors, with a number of potential sites including Wylfa in North Wales.”
4. A decision on hydrogen heating not due until 2026
The government has set the “ambition” that by 2035, all new heating appliances will be low-carbon - like electric heat pumps or hydrogen boilers.
But the first mainstream hydrogen boilers - where the gas is used in lieu of the current gas in the mains - won’t be up and running for years.
A decision will only be made in 2026, before a “gradual transition that works with the grain of consumer choice”. This means pleas to change the system urgently may fall on deaf ears.
5. Only £2bn for cycling
The plan commits £2bn for cycling - which in the grand scheme of government spending is not the most earth-shattering sum.
Image:Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
By comparison, the government pledged £5bn for “bus services and cycling routes” over the five years from 2020.
The plan promises “first hundreds, then thousands of miles” of segregated cycle lanes and at least one zero-emission transport city.
6. No plan to cut meat consumption
The global production of meat - such as beef, chicken and pork - is causing deforestation and accounts for around a third of all planet-heating gases.
The landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report made clear governments should encourage people to eat less meat.
“We don’t want to tell people what to eat,” Hans-Otto Pörtner, IPCC ecologist said. “But it would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consumed less meat, and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect.”
But while the Tories' strategy supports new nuclear plans and carbon capture projects, it is utterly silent on cutting emissions from livestock and freeing up land for planting trees.
7. Burden could fall on the poor
Treasury documents urge that policies do not pile the economic pain onto the poor - but admit it is a risk.
It reads: “As with all economic transitions, ultimately, the costs and benefits of the transition will pass through to households through the labour market, prices and asset values. These costs and benefits will not fall evenly across households.”
But businesses and power-holders are warned "seeking to pass the costs onto future taxpayers through borrowing would deviate from the 'polluter pays' principle, would not be consistent with intergenerational fairness nor fiscal sustainability, and could blunt incentives".
8. Shift from fossil fuels to blow £37bn black hole in UK's Budget
Moving away from polluting gas and petrols means fuel duty and vehicle excise duty naturally disappear - but the Treasury has warned the lost revenue spells other taxes.
No11 says the cost of net-zero will place “a significant and permanent fiscal pressure" not offset by the temporary measures like carbon pricing.
It adds: "This principally concerns revenues from Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty, amounting to £37bn in 2019/20 – equivalent to 1.7% of GDP.
"Were the current tax system to remain unchanged across the transition period, tax receipts from most fossil fuel related activity will decline towards zero during the first 20 years of the transition, leaving receipts lower in the 2040s by up to 1.5%".
HM Revenue and Customs could raise an extra 1.3% of GDP, the Treasury estimates, with a new carbon tax but it would not close the gap left behind by old fossil fuel taxes.
9. Your mortgage could get more expensive
Ministers are weighing up plans to link mortgages to green home improvements by imposing targets for lenders.
The radical reform of the housing market would aim to nudge people to fork out to decarbonise older homes, such as large townhouses or family homes.
But the drive could pile costs onto poorer families who may struggle to afford the necessary upgrades to get a cheaper mortgage.
Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The problem is that while some properties can be improved at relatively little cost, other homeowners will find it prohibitively expensive. They may not be able to afford to borrow more, or the cost of changes to older properties may be disproportionately high, so they’d never recoup the cost of the improvements through a sale.”
She said that while lower energy bills may offset some people’s costs, “the problem is that while some properties can be improved at relatively little cost, other homeowners will find it prohibitively expensive”.
She added: “They may not be able to afford to borrow more, or the cost of changes to older properties may be disproportionately high, so they’d never recoup the cost of the improvements through a sale.”
10. Government backed out of scrapping diesel cars and gas boilers
The Government has banned the sale of any new petrol and diesel car from 2030 and any hybrid car from 2035.
But it has stepped back from ordering petrol and diesel cars will be scrapped.
“We will work with the grain of consumer choice: no one will be required to rip out their existing boiler or scrap their current car," the net zero strategy reads.
Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also said getting rid of gas boilers would be "voluntary" as ministers hoped the market would drive change.
Image:Getty Images/Cavan Images RF)
“In the short term, yes, of course this is a voluntary scheme … There will be a point at which that changes but, yes, for now that’s the case,” she told Sky News.
The international trade secretary said she believed the market would eventually change to make the greener switch more affordable. “At the moment we’re encouraging the market to drive those changes,” she told the BBC.
11. People buying second-hand electric cars may be saddled with loans
The Treasury cannot predict what the second-hand electric car market will look like "given that it is a new market".
Poorer households are more likely to buy second-hand, but government documents note "interest rates in second-hand car finance arrangements are typically significantly" than for new cars.
They add "access to finance may become increasingly important", suggesting ministers fears lower-income motorists could end up saddled with debt in order to replace their petrol or diesel car.
12. Failing to act will be MUCH worse
Buried in the document is the admission that the costs of reaching net zero - excluding air quality and emissions benefits - will be 1-2% of the UK’s entire GDP in 2050.
And despite relatively little investment put forward, the Treasury admits that the UK economy will not escape catastrophe if countries do not hit net zero targets.
The Office for Budget Responsibility’s recent report showed unmitigated climate change resulting in “debt spiralling up to around 290% of GDP thanks to the cost of adapting to an ever hotter climate and of more frequent and more costly economic shocks”.
The Treasury also cites ” damage to global supply chains affecting trade, reduced production in trading partner nations pushing up the cost of imported goods, and changes to migration".
“The true cost of a warmer climate to the UK economy could be higher than current estimates,” it admits.Read More Read More