UK to set legally binding target for net zero emissions by 2050

12th June 2019 | Commercial Energy

The UK is to set a legally binding target to end its contribution to climate change by 2050, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced. The Government is laying out legislation in Parliament on Wednesday to set a new target to cut emissions to “net zero” by the middle of the century.

The statutory instrument will amend the existing goal to cut climate pollution by 80% by 2050, which was agreed by MPS under the Climate Change Act in 2008. The move comes after the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change called for the new legal target to be brought in as soon as possible and to urgently ramp up action to cut emissions.

Net Zero Emissions

Hitting net zero – a 100% cut in emissions – will mean an end to heating of homes with traditional gas boilers, more green electricity, and a switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles, walking and cycling. It could require people to eat less meat and dairy and take fewer flights. Andy remaining pollution in 2050 from areas including aviation will need to be “offset” through measures to cut carbon such as planting trees.

The committee told the Government the move would be in line with commitments to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels under the international Paris Agreement and will provide leadership for other countries on tackling climate change.

A leaked letter last week showed the Treasury warning the PM that making the shift to a zero carbon economy would cost at least £1 trillion. But the committee said it will cost around 1-2% of annual economic output up to 2050 – the same as predicted a decade ago for the 80% target – while the cost of inaction would be many times higher. The shift, which is achievable with known technologies, will deliver economic opportunities and other benefits, the committee said.

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