UK has fallen short of tree planting ambitions for past 30 years - let’s change that

30 November 2020

  • The UK was the first major economy to pass net zero emissions in law, yet the last time the UK planted its recommended 30,000 hectares of trees in one year to reach net zero was 1989.
  • Despite a recent survey by OVO Energy that showed the British public think the Government should prioritise more tree planting in the UK in order to combat climate change, the UK is falling behind on its targets.
  • OVO is calling on the Government to get serious about tree planting and enshrine a tree planting target in law, kickstarting the campaign with a government petition to ensure we deliver on ambitions.

London, Monday 30 November 2020: To mark National Tree Week 2020, OVO Energy is calling on the UK Government to set a legally-binding tree planting target.

Boris Johnson pledged to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year in the UK by 2025, as part of his ten-point plan for addressing climate change. However, this commitment was already promised in the Conservative Manifesto and the last time the UK planted 30,000 hectares in one year was 1989.

Trees are the best technology that nature has to combat the climate crisis, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and lock it away for many years. Despite this, only 13% of the UK is forested, compared to an EU average of 38%, and according to Forestry Commission data, tree planting has fallen this year. The UK has a long history of deforestation, which means we're starting from further behind than many of our European Counterparts when it comes to tree coverage. Therefore, the UK is unlikely to meet its targets unless a tree planting target is set in law.

With a year to go until COP26, now is the time for the devolved nations to take action and set a legally-binding tree planting target in line with the Climate Change Committee's recommendation that the UK needs to be planting at least 30,000 hectares of new woodland each year.

Kate Weinberg, Director of Sustainability, OVO Energy said:

“While the UK has a good tree planting target, it does not have a track record of meeting it. Enshrining a tree planting target in law would catalyse further action, bringing many benefits. It will lead to an increase in biodiversity, reconnect people with nature and help deliver on our net zero target. That’s why we’ve launched a petition to call on the UK Government to set a tree planting target in law, and act now to deliver on the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis.”

Darren York, Chief Executive, The Conservation Volunteers, said:

“The Conservation Volunteers are asking our followers to support OVO Energy’s petition asking government to enshrine a tree planting target in law. A legally binding target to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland each year to 2050 would go a long way towards tackling the global issue of climate change. TCV welcomes the Government’s previously stated commitment to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland each year to 2025. We believe that setting a further legally binding target would further recognise and address the urgency of the climate and ecological emergency. It would drive and support more cross-sector partnerships, such as our I Dig Trees partnership with OVO Energy that has planted and distributed more than one million native trees, since 2015, for climate, for communities and for nature.”

Analysis by the Carbon Trust shows that 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK comes from their home energy. OVO Energy is committed to reducing those emissions to net zero, starting out with supplying 100% renewable electricity whilst also committing to plant a tree for every member, for every year they stay with OVO.


Notes to editors

For more information please contact [email protected]

About the petition: Enshrine tree planting target in law

The UK is hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference and has already enshrined a net zero carbon emissions target in law. Now is the time for the Government to set a legally-binding tree planting target, in line with the Committee on Climate Change recommendation.

Link to the petition can be found here.

About OVO Energy

OVO Energy was founded in 2009 and redesigned the energy experience to be fair, effortless, green and simple for all customers. Today OVO Energy and its Retail partners serve nearly 5 million customers, all striving to deliver more affordable clean energy for everyone. OVO is on a mission through its sustainability strategy Plan Zero to tackle the most important issue of our time; the climate crisis, by bringing our customers with us on the journey towards zero carbon living. OVO Energy has committed to being a net zero carbon business and achieve bold science-based carbon reduction targets by 2030, while helping members halve their carbon footprint at the same time.

OVO Energy includes the retail brands: OVO Energy, SSE Energy Services, Boost, Spark Energy, CORGI HomePlan.