Last edited 20 Sep 2021

Net zero carbon 2050

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[edit] Introduction

On 12 June 2019 Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK will ‘eradicate’ its net contribution to climate change by 2050. The statutory instrument to implement this policy was was laid in Parliament to amend the Climate Change Act 2008.

This legislation will mean the UK could become the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions, but the government has made clear it is imperative that other major economies follow suit. For this reason, the UK will conduct an assessment within 5 years to confirm that other countries are taking similar action.

The move followed advice from the Committee on Climate Change published on 2 May 2019 which recommended a 2050 net zero emissions target.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “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. Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said: "Almost 400,000 people are already employed in the low-carbon sector and its supply chains across the country. Through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing in clean growth to ensure we reap the rewards and create two million high quality jobs by 2030... Low carbon technology and clean energy contribute £44.5 billion to our economy every year. We are ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans through our world-leading Road to Zero Strategy, and protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainability through our 25 Year Environment Plan.”


Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency said: “This is not only the right thing to tackle the climate emergency for future generations but a huge opportunity to increase our energy efficiency, improve our resilience and deliver a greener, healthier society. We know that investing in zero carbon solutions is good for growth - boosting jobs and the economy - and it is cheaper for business, organisations and government to tackle climate change now than to manage its impacts in the future. Ref

[edit] Industry reaction

Peter Tse, Business Manager, Sustainable Construction Group, BSRIA said: “The task ahead is truly challenging given the UK is currently significantly behind the targets set out in both fourth and fifth carbon budgets. However, it is encouraging to see many businesses already leading the way, with strong commitments and swift progress and a new Net Zero Taskforce launched to support the private sector's transition to a net zero carbon future.”

Paul Reeve, Director of CSR at the ECA said: "No-one should expect the feat of resolving the UK’s carbon footprint for good to be anything other than both hugely challenging and costly. However, against this is the enormous cost of climate inaction and potentially, there are phenomenal opportunities for UK businesses and the economy."

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC said: “We must accelerate action in all areas including improving the efficiency of our aging building stock, and overcoming the challenge of decarbonising heat. To do this, we need to see both policy and industry leadership to ensure the built environment is at the vanguard of emissions reductions. There is no time to lose, now is the time to act.”

[edit] Definitions

Making Mission Possible - Delivering A Net-Zero Economy, published by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) in September 2020, defines net-zero-carbon-emissions / net-zero-carbon / net-zero as: ‘..the situation in which the energy and industrial system as a whole or a specific economic sector releases no CO2 emissions – either because it doesn’t produce any or because it captures the CO2 it produces to use or store. In this situation, the use of offsets from other sectors (“real net-zero”) should be extremely limited and used only to compensate for residual emissions from imperfect levels of carbon capture, unavoidable end-of-life emissions, or remaining emissions from the agriculture sector.’

The Energy White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future (CP 337), published in December 2020 by HM Government, suggests net zero: ‘Refers to a point at which the amount of greenhouse gas being put into the atmosphere by human activity in the UK equals the amount of greenhouse gas that is being taken out of the atmosphere.’

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