A week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its landmark report warning that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” the UK Government has sought advice from the country’s Committee on Climate Change on setting a date for a net-zero emissions target.
To mark the launch of the UK’s first-ever Green GB & NI Week, the country’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry has written to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) asking for advice on a range of questions, spurred by the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which warned that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
Specifically, Minister Perry asked the CCC for advice on:
- setting a date for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy, including from transport, industry and agriculture
- whether we need to review the 2050 target of cutting emissions by at least 80% relative to 1990 levels to meet international climate targets set out in Paris Agreement
- how emissions reductions might be achieved in industry, homes, transport and agriculture
- the expected costs and benefits in comparison to current targets
“We’re a world leader when it comes to tackling climate change and cutting carbon intensity, but the evidence is clear – governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced,” said Minister Perry. “That’s why we’re asking the independent climate experts of the CCC for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so.
“The case for tackling climate change is more stark than ever before. This Green GB Week, we need everyone – the government, businesses and communities – to renew their efforts to confront this global challenge head on while seizing one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time.”
The Energy and Clean Growth Minister’s letter was sent to Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, seeking “an update to the advice” provided by the Committee as part of its “report on UK climate action following the Paris Agreement” which was published in October of 2016. “This advice will inform consideration of the UK’s long-term targets,” Perry continued, “and should include options for the date by which the UK should achieve a) a net zero greenhouse gas target and/or b) a net zero carbon target in order to contribute to the global ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement, including whether now is the right time for the UK to set such a target.”
“Scientists from around the world said we had 12 years to tackle climate change,” said Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate at WWF, speaking in response to the Government’s move. “Governments can no longer shirk their responsibilities. It’s time to act and, crucially, embrace the opportunities a green economy presents. Done right, this could be the biggest economic opportunity in history, driving innovation, job creation and better living standards.”
“The dangerous impacts of climate change spelt out in IPCC’s landmark report show in stark terms that waiting is not an option; every country needs to be much more ambitious on its emissions reduction targets,” added RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck. “The Government has done the right thing by taking the first step towards setting a new target of net zero carbon emissions, but this needs to be followed swiftly with robust action. Conservative Ministers took as the bold decision in 2015 to phase out coal; they need to be bold again.”
The move seems to gain even more weight, set as it is at the outset of the country’s first-ever Green GB & NI Week. To mark the start of this week-long green parade, the UK Government also unveiled a raft of measures intended to help transform energy infrastructure to make it cleaner and greener, including:
- proposals for new laws for smart energy appliances like washing machines and electric heating, laying the groundwork for a smart and clean electricity system of the future with the ambition of making all new buildings smart by 2030
- opening the £18 million Heat Recovery Support scheme to help businesses become more energy efficient, which could save industry up to £500 million on their energy bills while making manufacturing firms more competitive
- launching a £320 million government fund in low-carbon heating for cities, appointing Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management to it
- launch a competition in 2019 to design the house of the future, more energy efficient, with quality affordable design and easily adaptable to help healthy ageing
“At home, we are growing an economy that is fit for the future,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May. “Over the last year, we’ve generated record levels of solar and offshore wind energy, and just last month I hosted the UK’s first zero-emission vehicles summit. For our first Green GB Week, we are asking businesses and consumers to work with us to consider what more they can do to protect our environment.”
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