Theresa May announces legislation for zero emissions by 2050

Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to rescue her domestic legacy

LONDON-Greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom will be cut to nearly zero by 2050, under the terms of a new government plan to tackle climate change.

The statutory instrument to introduce the target comes in an amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008, laid in Parliament on Wednesday. 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.

"Standing by is not an option", Mrs May said on Tuesday.

But he also said the government will review the net-zero target within five years to ensure that other countries are taking "similarly ambitious action" and that United Kingdom businesses do not face "unfair competition".

Britain hopes its decision will encourage other countries to adopt more ambitious climate targets and said that a further assessment will take place within five years to confirm whether other countries are taking similar action.

Committee on Climate Change chairman Lord Deben said he was delighted the Government was putting the net zero target to a parliamentary vote and was looking forward to cross-party consensus on the issue. This will allow the United Kingdom to offset domestic emissions by paying for cuts in other countries.

The head of global policy at Christian Aid, Dr Alison Doig, said: "The Climate Change Committee advised the Government not to include any worldwide offsets in their net-zero calculations; so it's disappointing to see the Government keeping this option open. This step will send a strong signal to other countries to follow suit - and will help to drive the global effort to tackle climate change required by the Paris Agreement".

In the wake of widespread climate strikes by schoolchildren and students, the Government is also setting up a Youth Steering Group for young people to advise it on priorities for environmental action.

While the United Kingdom has significantly reduced emissions in the power sector through the increase of renewable energy and shutting down of coal-fired plants, other sectors such as transport, heating, housing, and industry have proven much more hard to decarbonise.

The Confederation of British Industry said firms were "squarely behind" the plan. Engineers will play a vital advisory role to ensure the deployment of large-scale projects, programmes and large investment in infrastructure is achieved in an effective and timely manner.

But the committee 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 cost of inaction would be many times higher. According to reports, the plan will cut greenhouse gas emissions to nearly zero by 2050.

Households would also need to be weaned off natural gas heating and switch to low-carbon alternatives such as hydrogen or heat pumps.

Stephen Marcos Jones, UKPIA Director-General, called on the Government to work with industry to realise the new target. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) report "Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Survey", businesses active in the low carbon and renewable energy economy generated £44.5 billion in turnover in 2017, employing an estimated 209,500 full-time equivalent employees. "If we get that balance right, then the United Kingdom chemical industry and its 140,000 skilled workers across the country can help accelerate the delivery of green solutions, benefitting society and the environment". "The engineering challenges involved are daunting and as a country we need to ensure that our workers have the competencies to deliver net zero". If we are to meet the challenge of climate change, we need global partners across the world to step up to this level of ambition.



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