June 12 (Renewables Now) - UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced today a net zero emissions target for 2050, becoming the first G7 country to legislate such a goal.
The statutory instrument to introduce the target comes in an amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008, laid in Parliament on Wednesday.
“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth,” May said.
The Prime Minister expressed hope that other major economies would follow suit. This will be checked within five years to confirm that the UK’s move has prompted ambitious climate action by other countries and to also ensure that the UK’s industries do not face unfair competition.
The target is based on recommendations by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which in a recent report said a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) target by 2050 could be achieved with known technologies and at an acceptable cost if existing policies were strengthened immediately. According to the CCC, extensive electrification, particularly of transport and heating, and a more ambitious offshore wind capacity goal of 75 GW by 2050 would be important pieces of the net-zero puzzle. It admits in its report that for now it is impossible to predict the exact mix of technologies and behaviours that would work best.
The announcement today makes it clear that using international carbon credits in support of the 2050 goal would be one piece of the puzzle, while “it will be for future governments to determine the precise direction of future climate policy”. Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist, was cited by the Guardian as warning that relying on international carbon credits would undermine the UK’s commitment to fighting climate change as it shifts the burden to developing nations.
Matt Setchell, co-head of Octopus Energy Investments commented: “The government’s decision to target net-zero carbon emissions is another important step forward. Yet how this can actually be achieved remains the elephant in the room. While the pathway remains unclear, it is vital that investment continues to flow into areas that have already had a material impact on the UK’s decarbonisation.”