The UK Government has announced that the UK will “eradicate” its net contribution to climate change by 2050 in an amendment to the Climate Change Act of 2008. The announcement was made by outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, and legislation passed in Parliament on 12 June.
May said: “As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change. […] 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 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) tweeted: “Today we’re one of the first major economies to legislate to reach net zero emissions by 2050 which will end the UK’s contribution to global warming. The path will be challenging but the benefits are incalculable for future generations”
Today we're one of the first major economies to legislate to reach #netzero emissions by 2050 which will end the UK's contribution to global warming. The path will be challenging but the benefits are incalculable for future generations🌍https://t.co/HUYUTe1JXh #IndustrialStrategy pic.twitter.com/4cjngnwgz2
— Dept for BEIS (@beisgovuk) June 12, 2019
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Reaction to net zero emissions by 2050
The news has been met with a mixed response. Shadow BEIS secretary of state Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “The Labour Party committed to a target of net-zero emissions before 2050 at its 2018 conference, and it is welcome to see the Government move in a similar direction.
“Since 2015 the Conservative Government has systematically dismantled the policy frameworks designed to tackle climate change.”
Writing in The Guardian, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that while setting a target for net-zero emissions is “vital” the government’s plans are “too little too late.”
Lucas noted while the UK is the first G7 country to set a net-zero country, countries like Norway (net-zero by 2030) and Finland (net-zero by 2035) have shown greater ambition. She said that “Theresa May is doing her best to grab some good headlines in the closing weeks of her premiership.”
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which made the recommendations to the government, outlined its views in a lengthy twitter thread, arguing: “An earlier date than 2050 should not be set at this stage. Some sectors could reach net-zero earlier, but for most 2050 appears to be the earliest credible date, avoiding the need for early capital scrappage or punitive policies.”
An earlier date than 2050 should not be set at this stage. Some sectors could reach net-zero earlier, but for most 2050 appears to be the earliest credible date, avoiding the need for early capital scrappage or punitive policies.
— CCC (@theCCCuk) May 2, 2019
Danish renewable energy company Ørsted, which has significant investments in the UK welcomed the move, tweeting: “The UK has committed to a net zero target for 2050. This is great news as we work towards our vision to create a world that runs entirely on green energy!”
The @GOVUK has committed to a net zero target for 2050. This is great news as we work towards our vision to create a world that runs entirely on green energy! #NetZero #ClimateChange #TogetherWeCan #LoveYourHome pic.twitter.com/Hoq5rRHhoM
— Ørsted UK (@OrstedUK) June 12, 2019
Cranfield University professor of atmospheric informatics Neil Harris said: “This is a very welcome step by the UK Government. The target is rational and achievable and would mean reducing emissions by 3% a year, at their current levels, for the next 30 years.