A target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 has become law, making the UK the first major economy to legislate to end its contribution to global warming, the Government said.
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.
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.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore has signed the order paper which makes the law come into force on Thursday, after it passed the Commons and Lords this week.
The new target amends the previous goal to cut climate pollution by 80% by 2050, which was agreed by MPs under the Climate Change Act in 2008.
Emissions will have to be brought as near to zero as possible and any 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 (2.7f) above pre-industrial levels under the international Paris Agreement and will provide leadership for other countries on tackling climate change.
A recent letter leaked to the Financial Times showed the Treasury warning the PM that making the shift to a zero carbon economy would cost at least £1 trillion.
But the committee also 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 price of inaction would be many times higher.
The move comes in the wake of increasingly severe warnings from scientific experts about the impacts of rising global temperatures and the need for “unprecedented” action to curb the problem.
The climate “emergency” has also been rising up the public agenda, with youngsters walking out of classes and lectures for school strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests and a mass lobby of MPs by constituents on Wednesday.
Mr Skidmore said: “The UK kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions.
“Today we’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our modern industrial strategy.”
The Government hopes other countries will follow suit and has pledged a review within five years to ensure other nations are taking similarly ambitious action, and British industries are not facing unfair competition.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?