UK to enshrine net zero emissions target into law?

Big Ben photo
CC BY 2.0 Phil Dolby

This would mark a significant step up in terms of ambitions.

We were impressed back in 2011 when Britain committed to 50% emission cuts by 2025, and 80% by 2050. Indeed, the country has made good progress on that front, bringing power station emissions down to levels not seen since the Victorian era.

That said, there's still a long way to go. And now that coal is on the way out in the UK, they are going to have to move beyond low hanging fruit and tackle trickier emissions from sources like transportation, heating, aviation and agriculture.

There are renewed hopes, however, that the country's Conservative government will do just that. The Guardian reports that clean growth minister Claire Perry announced during the Commonwealth heads of government meeting that it will be reviewing its longterm target of 80% cuts by 2050, raising the possibility of finally enshrining a 'net zero' by 2050 goal into law. (It's worth noting that similar promises have been made in the past.)

Of course, whenever we talk about 2050 goals, commenters will rightly point out that we'll have to act much sooner than that if we are to have any hope of curbing the worst impacts of climate change. That said, the tighter the targets in 2050, the sooner and harder the government will have to act to get us there. And if a net zero goal does get passed, it would greatly increase the likelihood of moving forward a ban on petrol/diesel cars by a decade, and also provide fresh impetus for proposals to invest in the UK's soil health too.

The review of UK targets will apparently take place toward the end of the year, following a global scientific review of what actions would be needed to keep warming below a 1.5C rise.

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