Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Science | By

United Kingdom sets target for net zero emissions by 2050

United Kingdom sets target for net zero emissions by 2050

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will put a proposal to parliament today committing the country to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The net-zero target was recommended by the Government's independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, and has the backing of nine of the ten candidates campaigning to be the next leader of the Conservative Party; only Esther McVey opposes it.

The CCC's report, which had been commissioned by the government, stressed that a target of net zero emissions by 2050 is possible provided that the UK's governments introduce "clear, stable and well-designed" policies to tackle the economy's most emitting sectors such as transport, agriculture and industry.

Moreover, Theresa May added that the United Kingdom was a leading example to acquire wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution.

We will retain the ability to use worldwide carbon credits. Doug Parr, Chief Scientist for Greenpeace UK, said: "This is a big moment for everyone in the climate movement and particularly to the youth climate strikers, who rightly should advise on future climate and environmental policy".

May said: "As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change". Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has expressed concerns that they "do not go far or fast enough", for example, while Work and Pension Secretary Esther McVey has claimed that more needs to be done to couple decarbonisation with the protection of social and economic security for working-class people. "We must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth".

He said: "Net-zero can be achieved but only if the ambition is supported by the right policies". The new target will amend the Climate Change Act and make net reductions by 100% - the new legally-binding target.


For the first time, young people will have the chance to shape future United Kingdom climate policy through the Youth Steering Group, set up by DCMS and led by the British Youth Council, which will advise Government on priorities for environmental action and give a view on progress to date against existing commitments on climate, waste and recycling, and biodiversity loss.

The Welsh Government has also announced that it intends to meet the net zero by 2050 target, even though the CCC only recommended 95% reductions for Wales as its large agricultural sector will be hard to decarbonise.

The government has not yet moved formally to include worldwide aviation and shipping within the target, but they have acknowledged that these sectors must be part of the whole economy strategy for net zero.

Welsh Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: "It is vitally important the UK Government ensures the costs and benefits of moving to net-zero are spread fairly across the UK, including support for vulnerable workers and consumers". She says the amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act will intensify Britain's push to drastically reduce carbon emissions because "standing by is not an option". "This autumn's National Infrastructure Strategy must be unambiguously bold in using the assessment to set a clear and achievable path to ensure the United Kingdom becomes a low-carbon nation". That will mean more renewable energy projects, more electric vehicle charging points and a decarbonised gas grid, for which hydrogen is an absolute necessity.

"With today's net zero laws, all levels of government, business and society now have a legal framework and a declaration of ambition showing that the United Kingdom intends to lead the world on climate action".

Sweden's environmental agencies Wednesday launched a platform that allows citizens to monitor the country's progress toward the net-zero emissions target by 2045.

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