UK to enshrine 'net zero' emissions into law

Wind power UK
CC BY 2.0 Flickr

When the world signed up to an unprecedented climate agreement in Paris, pessimists would have been forgiven for being skeptical. After all, errrm, Kyoto.

But a growing number of countries are following up on their Paris promises with something very encouraging: talk of legal commitment. Hot on the heels of Swedish parliamentarians publishing a plan for carbon neutrality by 2045, Business Green reports that the UK government is promising to enshrine into law its Paris goal of "net zero emissions" by 2050.

That's a pretty encouraging sign, because legal commitments make it that much harder for countries to backtrack if a different party gets into power, or if short-term political tides make carbon cutting measures unpopular. What's even more encouraging is that the move appears to be supported by leaders of all major parties, with former Labour leader Ed Miliband leading a bipartisan charge for this next step.

That said, questions remain about Britain's current energy policy. On the one hand, renewables have been getting a record-breaking share of the country's energy mix of late and CO2 emissions have been falling fast. On the other hand, the Conservative government has announced a dizzying set of u-turns on renewables policy, slashing solar and wind subsidies and leaving many investors questioning the government's long-term commitment to a low carbon future.

A legally-binding goal should go a long way toward ensuring confidence in the eventual destination. Questions will no doubt remain about how the government plans to get there.

UK to enshrine 'net zero' emissions into law
It looks like Britain is ready to legally commit to the climate promises it has made.

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