Boris Johnson has unveiled a ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution in the UK with particular steps forward in electric vehicles and wind energy but no mention of food and farming.
The plan outlines how £12 billion will create up to 250,000 green jobs and is part of how the UK hopes to become net zero in carbon by 2050.
While nature was included in the plan, the target of planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year has been criticised as too weak, as has the omission of food and farming, where the potential for a sustainable transition has not been recognised.
Critics have also pointed out the comparison in spending on other government projects, such as the £100bn projected cost for HS2 rail.
One of the biggest steps forward appears to be £1.3bn to accelerate the rollout of chargepoints for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways across England.
There will also be £582m in grants for zero or ultra-low emission vehicles to incentivise more people to make the transition, and almost £500m on the mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.
In addition, the UK is bringing forward the last date of sale for any new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2030, ten years earlier than planned.
Other specific funding outlined included £200m to create carbon capture clusters and £1bn on extending the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme by a year. Up to £500m is earmarked for trialling homes heated and fuelled by hydrogen, while £525m will be spent on developing large and smaller-scale nuclear plants.
Gareth Morgan, head of farming and land use policy at the Soil Association said: “The government’s 10-point plan is a step towards greater UK credibility in hosting the COP26 Climate Summit, but the plan’s failure to address how we produce our food is a big gap.
“Food and farming is responsible for a large proportion of UK emissions and failing to recognise this in a climate plan is a missed opportunity to join up the dots between the current climate, nature and health crises.”
“The UK is already well behind on the government’s own tree planting targets and it’s critical for nature and climate that the right trees are grown in the right places. Tree planting can and must play a vital role in a green recovery –agroforestry could support more resilient farming and help restore nature and health.”
Zac Goodall, sustainability and ethics manager at organic veg box company Riverford, said: “3.2 million hectares of the UK is estimated to be covered by woodland and forests. So even at the stated plans for 30,000 hectares of tree planting a year, that's only increasing our existing woodland by less than one per cent a year.
“The offshore wind plans though, are not to be sniffed at,” he added.
The ten-point plan includes:
- Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, and quadrupling production by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
- Hydrogen: Generating 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 for industry, transport and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
- Nuclear: Develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants.
- Electric vehicles: Accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and the related infrastructure.
- Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
- Jet Zero and greener maritime: Research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
- Homes and public buildings: Making homes, schools and hospitals more energy efficient, with a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
- Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in carbon capture technology, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030.
- Nature: Protecting and restoring the natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
- Innovation and finance: Make the City of London the global centre of green finance.
Johnson said: “Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”