The UK will commit to reducing its net GHG emissions to zero by enshrining the pledge into law, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said on Monday, an ambitious target in line with what was called for in last year’s Paris climate agreement.
Speaking in parliament, Leadsom gave no timeline for the goal but said that the government had already been planning it, adding that “the question is not whether, but how we do it”.
“There is an important set of questions to be answered before we do. The Committee on Climate Change, is looking at the implications of the commitments in Paris and has said it will report in the Autumn,” she said.
The Paris Agreement calls for countries “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.”
Leadsom made the announcement in response to an amendment laid by former Labour leader and ex-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband, which had garnered wide support for urging the government to put its pledge into law.
The move, which would require the government to set a year by which net emissions would be zero or less, would set a new climate target for the UK beyond its binding pledge under its Climate Change Act to cut GHGs by 80% below 1990 by 2050.
“We are determined to build on the momentum of Paris, and I believe our positive response to [Miliband] today is a clear example of it.”
The target year would have to be set within 12 months of this bill coming into force and following advice from the Committee on Climate Change.
Experts say the final 20% of cuts will be the most difficult and costly.
Leadsom’s announcement marks a bright spot in the UK government’s recent record on climate change and renewables, which has been marred by subsidy cuts for several clean energy sources including solar and onshore wind, a campaign to promote fracking across the British countryside, and effectively transforming the country’s Climate Change Levy into a tax on all energy sources, regardless of their emissions.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org