UK government commits to 2050 net zero emissions target

Outgoing prime minister Theresa May has today announced that the UK will set a legally binding target to eradicate its net carbon emissions by 2050.


A statutory instrument will be laid in parliament today to amend the Climate Change Act, making the UK the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions.

However, the government said it would retain the ability to use international carbon credits within an appropriate monitoring, reporting and verification framework.

This comes after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) last month said that net zero emissions by 2050 would have significant benefits for biodiversity, air quality and public health.

May said today: “This country led the world in innovation during the industrial revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.

“Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.”

The government said it would be important for other countries to follow suit, and that it would conduct an assessment within five years to ensure that UK industries are not facing unfair competition.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed today’s announcement and explained how businesses are ready to play their part in achieving the 2050 target.

“Some sectors will need clear pathways to enable investment in low-carbon technologies, and it is vital that there is cross-government coordination on the policies and regulation needed,” director general, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, said.

However, Friends of the Earth warned that a 2050 target is not ambitious enough to address the climate crisis, and said that the UK should set a goal for 2045 at the latest.

"The next prime minister must legislate to end our contribution to climate breakdown earlier, put carbon-cutting at the centre of policy-making and pull the plug on plans for more roads, runways and fracking," chief executive, Craig Bennett, said.

“It’s now time to build the carbon-free future that science requires and the public are so loudly demanding.” 


Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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