The head of the UK’s biggest business lobby group has warned that the corporate world is “way off track” in tackling the climate crisis.
Tony Danker, the director-general of the CBI, called on the government to do more to unlock the resources of the private sector by publishing new guidance on heating and transport.
“Tackling the planet’s climate crisis before it’s too late has always been a seismic challenge demanding global cooperation on an unprecedented scale,” he will say in a speech at the CBI’s Road to Zero conference on Monday. “The world has no room for failure. The climate crisis is worsening and currently we’re way off track.”
The CBI, which represents the UK’s biggest employers, wants the government to “fill in the blanks” in its plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by the end of this decade, and by 78% compared with 1990 levels by 2035.
Danker called for the government to put forward detailed plans on a charging network for electric vehicles, the phasing out of gas boilers, new offshore wind farms, and funding formulas for new nuclear power stations.
Last year, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced a much-heralded “10-point plan” for a green industrial revolution, but few of the aspirations it contained came with any concrete policies attached.
Danker told the Guardian: “I think the 10-point plan is very good, but it does not have quite enough detail. We need a blueprint to build, to make sure we move from ambition to action.”
Without such detail and policies, the UK would miss out on much-needed investment from international companies, he warned. “Companies are alert and keen to play in Britain, but they are now saying they need more granularity [detail] to make real investment decisions,” he said.
The UK will host vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, in Glasgow this November to attempt to put the world on track to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, of limiting global heating to well below 2C and preferably less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The CBI is holding a conference on the long-term goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. The organisation has set out its recommendations on achieving the targets, which include seven new gigafactories to build batteries and other components for electric vehicles, a plan for a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging, and a review into fuel duty by the end of this year.
A new strategy to decarbonise homes should include a requirement for new gas boilers sold after 2025 to be “hydrogen-ready”, and no new gas boilers should be sold from 2035.
He said the government should learn from the failure of its green homes grant scheme, which was intended to insulate tens of thousands of homes but was scrapped after six months amid widespread complaints from consumers. “It’s OK to get the execution wrong, but you can’t scrap the intention – they need to come back with a better plan,” he said.
Danker stopped short of recommending a halt to airport expansion, which campaigners have called for, saying instead that the government should pour more effort into “jet zero” plans for low-carbon flying using fuels and technology that have yet to be developed.
The UK government said: “The UK is a world leader in the global effort to tackle climate change. We were the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to climate change by 2050, and have just committed to a highly ambitious climate target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.
“We are powering forward with the prime minister’s 10-point plan, which will mobilise £12bn of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and attract over three times as much private sector investment by 2030.”