Government commits to zero carbon emissions by 2050

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

An amendment to the 2008 Climate Change Act will see the target move from an 80% reduction to zero emissions.

May said: "Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. 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.”

The target is based on a report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which concluded that zero emissions is achievable if clear, stable and well-designed policies are introduced immediately.

Lord Deben, CCC chair, said: “Our report concluded that net zero is necessary, feasible and cost effective.

“This is a major commitment for the coming decades, but we have highlighted the significant benefits of action. This step will send a strong signal to other countries to follow suit – and will help to drive the global effort to tackle climate change required by the Paris Agreement.

Emissions from homes, transport, farming and industry will have to be avoided completely or offset by technology or planting trees.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “We know that investing in zero carbon solutions is good for growth - boosting jobs and the economy - and it is cheaper for business, organisations and government to tackle climate change now than to manage its impacts in the future.”

"This is not only the right thing to tackle the climate emergency for future generations but a huge opportunity to increase our energy efficiency, improve our resilience and deliver a greener, healthier society."

The waste industry is a key player in the path towards zero net emissions, and will contribute to renewable energy sources and pollution prevention.

It is now calling for further investment in renewable energy and fuel sources, energy efficiency and carbon offsetting measures.

Bowman Power CEO Paul Dowman-Tucker said: “We hope this commitment will see additional investment in technologies to bridge the gap from current fuel sources to renewables and ensure action on a global stage.

“Each of these areas will play a key role but the more we can reduce emissions at source, particularly through improved efficiency where fossil fuels are still used, the less we will need to offset which is likely to be costly.”

Scotland has already committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045, five years ahead of the UK government's target.

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