Actions, not words - why the government needs to step up its commitments to net zero

Policy Connect recently launched a Climate Policy Dashboard, which tracks the government’s progress in introducing policies to deliver on the UK's climate goals. Neil Grant, COP26 research fellow, explains why the tool will be useful for everyone.

Anyone can use the new tool to track the UK
Anyone can use the new tool to track the UK's progress in meeting net zero targets.
  • Updated: 08 June, 2021
  • Author: Neil Grant, COP26 Research Fellow at Policy Connect
COP26 might be the world’s ‘last best chance’ at tackling climate change. The global climate summit, hosted by the UK in November this year, is a critical moment in our shared fight against the climate crisis.

It could be the moment where nations step up to the plate, bringing new carbon-cutting pledges that put us on a pathway to 1.5°C. It could be the moment where a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic emerges. It could be the moment where the tide finally begins to turn in favour of ambitious climate action.

All of this however, depends on our actions matching our words. Delivery is what counts. And the bad news is that the UK is currently way off track to meet our climate goals.

We’re talking the talk, but we have some way to go before we can really say that we’re walking the walk. It’s essential that the government provides ambitious and effective policies that get us back on track – particularly as the hosts of COP26.


The Climate Policy Dashboard

Policy Connect, on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group has developed a Climate Policy Dashboard which tracks the government’s progress in introducing policy to deliver on our climate goals.

As ICE has highlighted, the UK’s infrastructure systems are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, with transport and energy alone accounting for around 60% of the UK’s total emissions. To meet net zero, we will need an unprecedented transformation of these systems.

The dashboard provides an objective, multi-level, constructive and transparent assessment of government progress, in an easy-to-use and interactive manner:

UK Climate Policy Dashboard

Using a set of over 100 individual policy recommendations from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), we track government progress in developing climate policy in each sector of the economy.

We use this deep-dive analysis to inform our high-level overview, where we rank progress in each sector on a scale of 0-10 and provide key highlights and recommendations for improvement. We also publish all our methodology so you can see for yourself why we’ve ranked government progress the way we have.

The dashboard can be used to either get a quick overview of progress or to view each sector page in further detail, including a sector summary, highlights of recent policy developments and our assessment of how the government is doing against each individual CCC recommendation.

Our vision

Why did we develop this dashboard? Because we want to empower people to provide meaningful scrutiny on the government’s progress. For many, whether that’s time-poor decision makers such as MPs, or those without specialist knowledge in the area, some existing publications can be a bit dense and inaccessible. We wanted to create a dashboard that was easy-to-use and accessible to all.

Our hope is that the dashboard helps people to celebrate the progress that has been made, but more importantly to ask the difficult questions about the glaring gaps in our climate action plans, whether that’s the lack of clarity on hydrogen infrastructure rollout, the limited ambition for peatland restoration or the lack of a plan for phasing out unabated gas in the power sector.

uk climate policy dashboard heat map
Users can easily see how the government is performing using the colour key to the dashboard.

Our vision is that the dashboard will be used by MPs, journalists, climate policy advocates in business/civil society and the general public to scrutinise the government and apply pressure on the critical areas where progress is lacking.

We hope that the dashboard will contribute to ambitious and effective climate policy being introduced in these critical months before COP26, so that by November, the UK is on track to meet, or preferably outperform, our current climate targets.

Next steps for the dashboard

We will be continuing to monitor climate policy developments in the UK and will update the dashboard regularly to reflect any changes.

Our first update went live in late May, providing analysis on the government’s Tree and Peat Action Plans. This boosted the score in the agriculture and land-use sector from 4/10 to 5/10 and contained some welcome commitments.

But much more needs to be done in all sectors of the economy, and we’ll continue to update the dashboard as new policies are announced, so that it provides an up-to-date progress assessment.

We hope that you will use the Climate Policy Dashboard to keep updated on how the government is doing in introducing policies to get the UK on track to meet our climate goals.

The dashboard is an easy-to-use and interactive tool, that can help us all to ask the government to step up, not only in words, but in action. Because the only climate ambition that ultimately matters is ambition that is delivered upon.

View the Climate Policy Dashboard here.

Guest blogger: Neil Grant, COP26 research fellow at Policy Connect.

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