The UK House of Commons has passed legislation to commit the UK to net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, making it the first G7 country to do so. The legislation amends the Climate Change Act of 2008, which called for an emissions reduction of 80%, and raises it to 100%.

Initially announced by the Government on 12 June and passed in Parliament on 24 June, the bill now moves to the House of Lords for approval on 26 June.

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Government reaction

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) minister Chris Skidmore MP, who introduced the bill in Parliament tweeted: “Today the House of Commons passed the milestone legislation to commit the U.K. to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. One of the proudest moments of my parliamentary career to speak at the despatch box as a government minister introducing it.”

BEIS quoted Skidmore’s remarks in Parliament on Twitter, posting: “We can make history as the first major economy in the world to commit to ending our contribution to global warming forever.”

The Foreign Office also tweeted: “phasing out coal by 2025 and first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions world’s biggest producer of off-shore wind energy. The UK is leading action to tackle climate change.”

Criticism of the government

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas criticised the unambitious timescale to reach net-zero emissions, saying: “It’s not enough just to declare a climate emergency and a net zero emissions target. The Government needs to take appropriate action now. There’s no point in dialling 999 and asking for the fire brigade in 30 years’ time.”

During the Parliamentary debate, Labour MP’s Mike Amesbury criticised the Government’s 2017 general election manifesto calling for a “revolution” in fracking, saying it flew in the face of current ambitions. Fellow Labour MP Dr Alan Whitehead echoed this by stating: “If one is trying to get a zero-emissions outcome, trying to get a lot more carbon fuel out of the ground using some of the most difficult ways possible does not exactly seem to be in line with that target.”

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse also condemned other aspects of the government’s policy, stating: “The current Government have effectively banned onshore wind, which is the cheapest form of renewable energy. They slashed subsidies for solar power and scrapped zero carbon homes. They ended the green deal, which was there to improve energy efficiency.