UK’s target for net-zero emissions by 2050 is ‘too far away’ says Boris Johnson’s climate change spokeswoman Allegra Stratton

  • Britain’s target of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 is ‘too far away’ 
  • Urgent action ‘must be taken to stop global temperature increases by 2030’
  • Boris Johnson’s climate tsar said UK must change emission output ‘right now’

Britain’s target of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 is ‘too far away’ and urgent action must be taken to stop global temperature increases by 2030, Boris Johnson’s climate change spokeswoman has claimed.

Allegra Stratton said the ‘science is clear’ that the country must change its carbon emission output ‘right now’ and called for faster action as the UK prepares for the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November.

Her comments are likely to alarm Tory backbenchers amid growing fears of the mounting costs of the Prime Minister’s net zero ambitions and the burden that will be placed on the shoulders of voters.

The UK was the first major industrialised country in the world to sign the 2050 target into law in 2019, and is aiming to persuade other nations to follow suit at the climate change summit which Mr Johnson is chairing.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend, Ms Stratton said: ‘What I’m aware of is right now that we have a 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, we have FTSE 100 companies pledging to go net zero and not only that, but we also have the NHS and hospitals around the country saying you know what, we’ll have a go as well.

‘And I feel at the point at which we can all of us see that we’re not doing it on our own, every part of society is moving in tandem towards this net zero in 2050… but let’s be honest, that’s too far away.

‘Net zero is the glide path, what we have to be doing more quickly – the science is clear – we have to be changing our carbon emissions output right now so that we can stop temperature increase by 2030. 

Britain’s target of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 is ‘too far away’ and urgent action must be taken to stop global temperature increases by 2030, Boris Johnson’s climate change spokeswoman Allegra Stratton has claimed

The National Infrastructure Commission said poorest tenth of households will pay an extra £80 each year by 2050 while the richest tenth will face a £400 bill to help sectors that currently have a low chance of hitting the Net Zero emissions target

If hydrogen is part of a zero-carbon future, it could have to be produced by electrolysis (as shown above), which sees electric currents passed through water. Another option is for the plants to capture the carbon emissions and pump them underground

Britons are set to be allowed up to five more years before a ban on sales of all new gas boilers comes into force, in a major row-back for Boris Johnson amid a backlash over the soaring cost of ‘net zero’ ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow later this year (stock image)

Britain’s families face paying hundreds of pounds more a year on food, flying and shipping costs to help industries remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, experts advising the Government on infrastructure said today.

The poorest tenth of households will pay an extra £80 each year by 2050 while the richest tenth will face a £400 annual bill to help sectors that currently have a low chance of hitting the Net Zero emissions target by this date.

The National Infrastructure Commission said the UK needs an industry to store the gases to help meet its pledge on carbon emissions – and taxpayers will have to spend up to £400million in the next decade to fund this.

However the executive agency added that the biggest polluting industries such as agriculture, shipping and aviation should make a £2billion-a-year contribution from 2030 – even if these costs are passed onto households.

The suggestion issued in a report provoked fury among consumer groups amid mounting concerns over how much Boris Johnson’s Net Zero commitments will end up costing hard-working families in the long run.

Among the organisations concerned about the costs involved is the TaxPayers’ Alliance, whose chief executive John O’Connell told MailOnline today: ‘The net zero target must not see working taxpayers landed with the bill.’


‘We have to feel the fierce urgency of now. I feel the fierce urgency of now. We have to bring countries to COP26 in November in Glasgow with real substantial plans.’

Ms Stratton said that progress had been delayed by the Covid pandemic and said plans will be unveiled when Parliament returns in September for projects like replacement gas boilers with more climate-friendly alternatives.

She also admitted that ministers had to overcome distrust from voters in the light of fast-changing advice on issues like diesel cars.

The climate change spokeswoman said: ‘This is a long-term journey we are all on.

‘This is a journey to 2050. This is not going to happen overnight. This is going to be a conversation we have with the British people about what is fair, protecting vulnerable families from some of the more difficult decisions they will have to make.’

Ms Stratton declined to discuss reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is holding out against green taxes to pay for action on climate change.

‘What worries me and what worries members of the government is the extreme climate change and weather events that we are seeing in this country now,’ she said.

She previously sparked bemusement after suggesting people should join the Green Party to save the planet.

The remark comes after the former Downing Street press secretary faced criticism for advising the public not to rinse their dishes before they put them into a dishwasher to help tackle climate change.

Ms Stratton said that joining the Green Party was another way in which Britons could help save the planet from rising carbon emissions.

She told The Independent: ‘When people say to me, ‘What can they do?’, the can do many things. They can join Greenpeace, they can join the Green Party, they can join the Tory Party.’

It comes amid a mounting backlash over the spiralling cost of Mr Johnson’s so-called green revolution, with Government insiders fearful that the proposals could add another £400billion on top of the enormous sums accrued during the Covid pandemic.

Hydrogen boilers are one of the possible replacements for gas boilers, with others including ground source or air source heat pumps, but these cost upwards of £14,000 or £11,000 respectively.

Other options include solar photovoltaic panels or solar water heating which both come in at about £5,000 for a full fitting. A hydrogen-ready boiler is intended to be a like-for-like swap for an existing gas boiler, but the cost is unknown, with estimates ranging from £1,500 to £5,000. 

Ministers had considered issuing millions of households with so-called ‘green cheques’ worth hundreds of pounds to compensate them for making their homes more eco-friendly and offset the cost of higher gas bills – but now only the poorest people in society are set to get grants to cover the cost of swapping.  

The Hy4Heat innovation programme has shown how hydrogen homes would be powered

Hydrogen boilers have not yet hit the market, with Worcester Bosch building this protoype

Smart meters will become redundant if Britain ditches gas boilers in an effort to go green

Boris Johnson backs plans to ALLOW thousands of Chinese and Russian jabbed delegates to Cop26 climate change summit in the UK despite vaccine not being recognised – as holidaymakers face travel rule chaos 

There was further confusion over the UK’s rules on vaccines and travel today, as it emerged Boris Johnson has backed plans to allow thousands of delegates treated only with unregulated jabs to attend a summit – while imposing new restrictions on British holidaymakers.

The Prime Minister has given the green light for officials and leaders to attend the Cop26 climate change event in Glasgow later this year, even though many have only received Chinese or Russian vaccines – not recognised by British or European medical regulators.

Questions have been raised over the efficacy of the Sinovac, Sinopharm and Sputnik V jabs, and now some cabinet ministers are voicing concerns over the public health implications of ‘legitimising’ them, and allowing the delegates to roam free on their visit to Britain.

Dominic Raab and Michael Gove are among the senior figures to have expressed fears, according to the Times, but Mr Johnson is said to be determined to press on and allow entry regardless.

It comes as families were in a fight to save their summer last night, with holiday hotspots in Europe facing new travel rules.

As part of the net zero plan – which would decarbonise the economy by 2050 – No10 had been expected to publish in the spring details of the strategy for moving away from gas boilers ahead of Glasgow’s COP26 climate change conference in November. But this has been delayed until the autumn amid mounting alarm about the bill.

The Chancellor – who is already looking for ways to pay back the £400billion cost of the Covid crisis and the £10billion a year required to reform long-term care for the elderly – is understood to have baulked at estimates of hitting net zero at more than £1.4trillion.

The Independent Office For Budget Responsibility calculated the cost of making buildings net zero at £400billion, while the bill for vehicles would be £330billion, plus £500billion to clean up power generation and a further £46billion for industry. 

After energy savings across the economy, this would leave a £400billion bill for the Treasury.

The OBR also warned that the Government would need to impose carbon taxes to make up for the loss of fuel duty and other taxes.

It is the latest claim of tensions between No10 and No11 over the strains on the public purse.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed Mr Sunak had warned that reforms to social care would not be affordable without the introduction of a new dedicated tax, equivalent to an extra 1 per cent on National Insurance. 

After a backlash, No 10 shelved the plans until the autumn.

There are also ongoing discussions about how to reduce the predicted £4 billion cost of the ‘triple lock’ protecting the value of the state pension, amid fears that a surge in average earnings figures will push it unaffordably high.

Both the increase on National Insurance and extra green costs are controversial within Government because the burden of both fall more heavily on younger people and lower income households.

The summit is expected to bring together more than 100 world leaders to make commitments on how they intend to reach global net zero and limit global warming to 1.5C. 

President of the UN COP26 climate summit Alok Sharma said the world must be put on a path to reaching net zero by 2050 if the goal of keeping global temperature increases below 1.5C is to be kept within reach. 

Speaking last week, Mr Sharma said the heavy rainfall and severe flooding witnessed in the UK and elsewhere around the world emphasises the urgent need to tackle climate change.  

How much will alternatives to gas boilers cost you to install at home? 

GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMPS (£14,000 – £19,000)

Ground source heat pumps use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground, which can then heat radiators, warm air heating systems and hot water.

They circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze around a ground loop pipe. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger.

Installation costs between £14,000 to £19,000 depending on the length of the loop, and running costs will depend on the size of the home and its insulation.

Users may be able to receive payments for the heat they generate through the Government’s renewable heat incentive. The systems normally come with a two or three year warranty – and work for at least 20 years, with a professional check every three to five years.


Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air at low temperature into a fluid to heat your house and hot water. They can still extract heat when it is as cold as -15C (5F), with the fluid passing through a compressor which warms it up and transfers it into a heating circuit.

They extract renewable heat from the environment, meaning the heat output is greater than the electricity input – and they are therefore seen as energy efficient.

There are two types, which are air-to-water and air-to-air, and installing a system costs £9,000 to £11,000, depending on the size of your home and its insulation.

A typical three-bedroom home is said to be able to save £2,755 in ten years by using this instead of a gas boiler.

HYDROGEN BOILERS (£1,500 – £5,000)

Hydrogen boilers are still only at the prototype phase, but they are being developed so they can run on hydrogen gas or natural gas – so can therefore convert without a new heating system being required.

The main benefit of hydrogen is that produces no carbon dioxide at the point of use, and can be manufactured from either water using electricity as a renewable energy source, or from natural gas accompanied by carbon capture and storage.

A hydrogen-ready boiler is intended to be a like-for-like swap for an existing gas boiler, but the cost is unknown, with estimates ranging from £1,500 to £5,000.

The boiler is constructed and works in mostly the same way as an existing condensing boiler, with Worcester Bosch – which is producing a prototype – saying converting a hydrogen-ready boiler from natural gas to hydrogen will take a trained engineer around an hour.


Solar photovoltaic panels generate renewable electricity by converting energy from the sun into electricity, with experts saying they will cut electricity bills.

Options include panels fitted on a sloping south-facing roof or flat roof, ground-standing panels or solar tiles – with each suitable for different settings. They are made from layers of semi-conducting material, normally silicon, and electrons are knocked loose when light shines on the material which creates an electricity flow.

The cells can work on a cloudy day but generate more electricity when the sunshine is stronger. The electricity generated is direct current (DC), while household appliances normally use alternating current (AC) – and an inverter is therefore installed with the system.

The average domestic solar PV system is 3.5 kilowatts peak (kWp) – the rate at which energy is generated at peak performance, such as on a sunny afternoon. A 1kWp set of panels will produce an average of 900kWh per year in optimal conditions, and the cost is £4,800.


Solar water heating systems, or solar thermal systems, use heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water.

A conventional boiler or immersion heater can then be used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable.

The system works by circulating a liquid through a panel on a roof, or on a wall or ground-mounted system.

The panels absorb heat from the sun, which is used to warm water kept in a cylinder, and those with the system will require a fair amount of roof space receiving direct sunlight for much of the day to make it effectively.

The cost of installing a typical system is between £4,000 and £5,000, but the savings are lower than other options because it is not as effective in the winter months.

BIOMASS BOILERS (£5,000 – £19,000)


The renewable energy source of biomass is generated from burning wood, plants and other organic matter such as manure or household waste. It releases carbon dioxide when burned, but much less than fossil fuels.

Biomass heating systems can burn wood pellets, chips or logs to heat a single room or power central heating and hot water boilers.

A stove can also be fitted with a back boiler to provide water heating, and experts say a wood-fuelled biomass boiler could save up to £700 a year compared to a standard electric heating system.

An automatically-fed pellet boiler for an average home costs between £11,000 and £19,000, including installation, flue and fuel store. Manually fed log boiler systems can be slightly cheaper, while a smaller domestic biomass boiler starts at £5,000.

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