Published: Sat, June 15, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Britain sets deadline for carbon neutrality by 2050

Britain sets deadline for carbon neutrality by 2050

The British government on Wednesday outlined legislation to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 in what it said would be a first for a major economy.

Legislation will be put before Parliament on June 12 to amend the existing climate change act to incorporate the new target, the statement said. 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. "Lord Deben, head of the committee on climate change, said it sent 'a strong signal to other countries to follow suit".

"Delivering this ambitious new target for a new generation of mobility systems presents big challenges to every player in the transport arena; automotive, energy, government, fleets and, of course, consumers... but together we can - and must - develop, communicate and deliver the plan to get us to Net Zero". It admits in its report that for now it is impossible to predict the exact mix of technologies and behaviours that would work best.

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, said: "It is disappointing that the Government has ignored its climate advisors' recommendation to exclude carbon offsets - as well as caving into Treasury pressure to review the target in five years' time".

"And it's going to act as a massive spur to the UK's bid to host the United Nations climate summit in 2020, because the UK can now legitimately say that it has done what all governments will have to soon: committing to ending its contribution to climate change".

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If the fact that MPs, the business community and the general public were calling on the Government to legislate for net-zero just weeks after the CCC advice was published is anything to go by, the next month or so is likely to involve these and other stakeholders making rallying cries regarding a framework laying out the specifics of how the UK's net-zero transition will be delivered. Yet how this can actually be achieved remains the elephant in the room.

And environmental lawyers at ClientEarth said the United Kingdom government must now "show leadership akin to the global space race to ensure real action backs new net zero laws addressing climate change". We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions. 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. "It's clear we're on an unstable path with carbon emissions rising at their fastest rate since 2011", said BP's chief economist Spencer Dale in a briefing ahead of the release of the 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy, reports the Independent. We are ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans through our world-leading Road to Zero Strategy, and protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainability through our 25 Year Environment Plan.

"Transport is one of the most challenging areas for decarbonisation (as the SMMT's latest summary shows) and has, so far, proved one of the most intractable".

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn DBE, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, said that United Kingdom business "stands squarely" behind the government's plans but that the legislation must be followed by "long-term" policies to support decarbonisation. "The government will now need to come forward with the co-ordinated policies, actions, and regulations needed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050". "This legislation is the right response to the global climate crisis, and firms are ready to play their part in combating it", she said.

Today will also see May officially launch the UK's bid to host the COP 26 climate conference in London in December 2020.

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