Report Finds UK’s Overall Sustainable Development Goals Progress Slow

UK Sustainable Development Goals

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Sep 28, 2022

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UK Sustainable Development Goals

(Credit: Pixabay)

The United Kingdom is underperforming when it comes to implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – including energy transitions, climate action, and sustainable communities – according to a report from the UN Global Compact Network UK.

The report finds that the UK is performing well on 17% of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets. Compared to 2018, the group says the UK has made improvements on 23 targets, regression on 18 others, with no change on 65 other goals.

The UN Global Compact Network UK does find that progress has been made on increasing the scale and scope of tackling climate and environmental issues. The group says that the government and businesses could still come up with a better overall plan to address systemic challenges tackling sustainability concerns.

The report says the UK has reduced carbon emissions from electricity generation by 70% over the past 30 years. The group finds the country’s ambitious net-zero strategy, energy plans that include offshore wind and net-zero electricity, and heat and building targets to be positives.

That said, the analysis shows the UK is missing the mark on affordable, reliable, and modern energy services, as well as increasing the mix of renewable energy used in the country. It says the country is doing the worst at meeting its target of doubling the rate of energy efficiency by 2030.

The report finds work the UK needs to do is increase at least 3 gigawatts of solar, and 3 GW of wind capacity per year to have a system that operates on 80% renewables by 2050. It also says by 2035 there needs to be more than 25 GW of flexible capacity through batteries and other sources.

In terms of climate action, the report finds the UK is slow to make progress in all of the areas listed by the SDGs. These include integrating measures into national policies, strengthening resilience, and committing to the UN’s international climate framework.

The report again says the UK’s net-zero strategy is a plus, but that the country is at risk of missing its carbon budget. It also finds there are policy gaps and often measures taken are limited to a short-term focus, and there is a lack of data on the country’s progress on climate measures. The group says the UK can also do more on an international level to make climate improvements.

Earlier this year a court ruled the UK has mishandled its overall net-zero strategy. The court found that the strategy did not meet the standards of the Climate Change Act by not specifying how the country would meet net-zero targets. The ruling requires the country to outline by 2023 how it will reduce emissions.

Commercial fleet managers have said they think the UK can hit net-zero goals, especially with more investment and government involvement. The UK has implemented other sustainable policies, such as a plastic packaging tax.

The UN Global Compact Network UK shows the country did make some progress in a few sustainable cities and communities goals. That includes preparation for and limiting losses from natural events, as well as national and regional development planning.

The 141-page report addresses the UK’s current performance with SDGs, opportunities and challenges, and recommendations for achieving stated targets. The analysis looks at 17 SDGs and 165 targets and uses public policy and published data to rate the UK’s efforts.

The project offers examples of work from more than 100 organizations, businesses, investors, academic institutions, and professional organizations.

The UN Global Compact Network UK says the country has not done its own review of SDGs since 2019. As a result, the group says there needs to be more cross-sector collaboration to make progress on the goals. Among the suggestions to make improvements include better planning, stakeholder engagement, and transparent reporting of actions the UK is taking to make SDG improvements, according to the group.

The UK does offer downloadable data on a website dedicated to the country’s SDG initiatives.

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