“We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” Theresa May said.
The United Kingdom will cut its greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050, the country’s outgoing prime minister Theresa May has pledged.
“We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” May said. “Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. We must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.”
The UK’s previous target for 2050 target was to reduce its emissions by 80%, which was agreed in the nation’s parliament under the Climate Change Act in 2008. The Act will be amended to incorporate the new goal in carbon reductions.
“This is a historic commitment that will reverberate right around the world,” Laurence Tubiana, a French economist and diplomat who helped author the Paris climate agreement, was quoted as saying. “All eyes will now turn on the rest of the EU to match this pledge.”
In a recently released report the United Kingdom’s government urged other countries to follow Britain’s example because that was the only way that there remained a reasonable chance of keeping a rise in global temperatures below the still-manageable 1.5 Celsius threshold by 2100.
Yet the UK’s decision to reduce its emissions so drastically over the next two three decades will come at a hefty cost, according to Chancellor Philip Hammond. He has said that it could cost the country an extra £1 trillion by 2050, which means that schools, hospitals and other public services might suffer. Other economists, however, dispute the figure.
The UK isn’t the only European nation that wants to cut emissions drastically. France, too, has proposed a goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Norway wants to achieve that goal for itself by 2030 and Finland by 2035. Meanwhile, Germany has pledged to shutter all its coal-fired plants by 2038 so as to reduce its own CO2 emissions.
Several leading environmentalists have welcomed the UK government’s decision to slash the country’s carbon emissions. “As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, it is right that the UK is the world’s first major economy to commit to completely end its contribution to climate change,” said Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace UK.
However, Parr warns against achieving reductions through a system of carbon credits whereby rich nations can pay poorer ones in exchange for the right to emit more CO2 at the expense of these developing nations. “[T]rying to shift the burden to developing nations through international carbon credits undermines that commitment,” Parr said. “This type of offsetting has a history of failure and is not, according to the government’s climate advisers, cost-efficient.”