Government watchdog calls on ministers to set 'ambitious' target of zero emissions by 2050

Posted On: 
2nd May 2019

Ministers should commit to an “ambitious new goal” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, a Government advisory body has said.

The committee called on the UK to slash its emissions in 30 years’ time
Credit: 
PA Images

The Committee on Climate Change's report, requested by the Government, found that foundations are in place to deliver the target, and that the overall cost of switching models are “manageable” but “must be fairly distributed”.

Scotland was flagged as having “greater potential” to shift towards zero-emissions than the UK as a whole, with the group suggesting that it adopt a 2045 target instead.

In contrast, Wales was said to have lower opportunities to reduce its greenhouse emissions, and was tasked with a 95% reduction rate by 2050.

Committee chair Lord Deben said: “We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response.

“The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part – we explain how in our new report – but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted.

“The Government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”

The committee said hitting the target would improve people’s health from better air quality, while inspiring healthier diets and more active travel.

It would also lead to an industrial boost within sectors such as finance and engineering, electric cars, productivity and jobs.

The group said ministers need to ramp up “stable and well-designed” policies across the economy, and for the Treasury to review how the costs can be managed fairly for consumers and businesses.

The body, established by the Climate Change Act in 2008, also warned the public must be engaged “if the transition is to succeed.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said of the findings: "Today’s report recognises the work we’ve done to lay the foundations to build a net zero economy, from generating record levels of low carbon electricity to our ambitious plans to transition to electric vehicles.

"To continue the UK’s global leadership we asked the CCC to advise the Government on how and when we could achieve net zero. This report now sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely."

The publication comes as climate change has risen to the top of the political agenda, with campaigners piling pressure on the Government to take more action in tackling the crisis.

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey welcomed the report and said: "Labour has committed to achieving net zero emissions before 2050 through a Green Industrial Revolution, working with the Committee on Climate Change to developing a pathway to get there. We will study the CCC's recommendations accordingly.

"Beyond the technical aspects of the report, I particularly welcome the CCC's recommendation that the costs of the low carbon transition must be fair and be perceived to be fair – with vulnerable workers and members of the public protected."

The report comes after MPs backed a Labour motion to declare a formal climate emergency, a move Jeremy Corbyn said he hoped would "set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe".