Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to learn from the success of the London Olympics and create a new Climate Delivery Authority to ensure the UK meets its 2050 net zero carbon target.
The initiative has been proposed in a letter to the British prime minister by a Cambridge University-led research programme, itself funded by the government.
The proposed delivery authority should be modelled along the lines of the one that successfully handled the 2012 London Olympic Games, says the letter.
Johnson, who was London Mayor when the Olympics were held, has also been told to initiate a National Resilience Commission, to update the Treasury's “Green Book” policy protocol to properly account for external climate risks, and to put climate mitigation on the school curriculum to rally societal participation.
Julian Allwood, a Cambridge professor of Engineering and the Environment who leads the research team known as UK FIRES, told Johnson that the pandemic lockdown should hasten new thinking about how to deal with the even greater threat posed by global warming.
It should draw on the research team’s Net Zero report last November which warned the UK may need to close down most of its airports and even seaports to meet its climate goals.
“Since the beginning of March the UK FIRES community has monitored the Lockdown across UK industry and manufacturing and looked for strategic opportunities arising from this unexpected period with our analysis in Absolute Zero.
“We are therefore writing to offer five recommendations to support a more rapid and more resilient journey to zero emissions in 2050.”
The most important one, says Allwood, is to create a Delivery Authority to guarantee compliance with the 2050 goals set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.
“The tremendous London 2012 Olympics were delivered on time and on budget by such an Authority, which adopted a principle of using no new technologies, to guarantee risk-free delivery,” he writes.
“The Delivery Authority should be substantive and enduring, able to hold accountability for delivery across different governments and through to 2050,” says Allwood who was a lead author on the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with a focus on mitigating industrial emissions.
The Cambridge academic whose team includes colleagues from Oxford University and Imperial College, London, wants Britain to establish a National Resilience Commission to prepare for the kind of disruption caused by Covid, explaining “progressive and potentially rapid unmitigated climate change will pose much greater threats to UK sourcing across many sectors including food, communications, energy, household goods and transport.”
Allwood argues to the Prime Minister that the UK is over-reliant currently in meeting its CO2 targets with new technologies such as CCUS, Negative Emissions Technologies or hydrogen storage “that have not yet reached market entry let alone maturity.”