As one of her last acts as Prime Minister, Theresa May has announced the UK will be the first major economy to set a legal target to stop contributing to climate change.
The target is to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, which is based on a report from the Committee on Climate Change on what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C. The target is also in line with recommendations from the International Panel for Climate Change, although some argue that the IPCC underestimate climate risks.
Further details and different perspectives are given in the following articles:
- Chris Stark (Chief Executive, Committee on Climate Change) – Towards Net Zero
- Jeremy Williams – How ambitious is a net zero carbon Britain by 2050?
- Jonathon Porritt – Our Next PM: a Guaranteed Climate Emergency in the Making!
- Myles Allen (Professor of Geosystem Science, University of Oxford) – Why protesters should be wary of ’12 years to climate breakdown’ rhetoric
The UK’s new target is welcomed, but there is uncertainty on how quickly carbon neutrality is needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. There is a strong argument we just need to make rapid progress as quickly as possible. Along with many other local authorities, both Somerset West and Taunton Council and Somerset County Council have recently declared climate emergencies and set targets to contribute to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The true test of all these declarations and targets will be the action that follows. A Citizens’ Assembly, sponsored by House of Commons select committees, is to be held in the Autumn, which may prove interesting and assist with policy choices.