The UK has set the world’s most ambitious environmental goal after vowing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 68% over the next decade, from the previous target of 53%.
The country, which will host the UN COP26 climate talks in Glasgow next year, followed the recommendation of the independent Climate Change Committee.
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The latter is also recommending wider climate commitments, including the development of a policy package and Net Zero Strategy to deliver against the UK goal, clear commitments to reduce international aviation and shipping emissions, and greater support for climate finance, particularly for developing countries.
Westminster said the path to meeting the new target is backed by the 10-point plan recently announced by Boris Johnson, focused on offshore wind, low-carbon hydrogen, nuclear power, carbon capture, green finance and lowering the pollution of the transport system.
According to government figures, the plan has the potential to deliver over £40bn of private investment as well as creating and supporting up to 250,000 jobs by 2030.
A new UK target to reduce emissions 68% by 2030 ✔️???? Its ambitious & achievable… But only if govt works out how to take people with them. Targets are nothing without a plan and some action to engage, give confidence inform, support & protect people
— Dhara Vyas (@CA_Dhara) December 4, 2020
SSE PLC (LON:SSE), which is behind the massive offshore windfarm Dogger Bank, noted it has a £7.5bn low-carbon investment programme to play its part in renewables, carbon capture and storage, electric vehicles and heat pumps.
Looking at other sectors, drinks giant Coca-Cola, telecoms powerhouse BT PLC (LON:BT.A) and grocery store chain Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) reaffirmed their commitment in increasing their sustainability credentials.
Even miner Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN) set out net-zero goals on Friday, although it said there’s space for fossil fuels, including coal, in the energy mix in the decades to come.
However, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas noted that the UK does not have the policies to achieve the goals and, with the current commitment, it is on track for 3°C of warming instead of just 1.5°C as targeted by the Paris Agreement.
“The announcement to up emissions targets… is a welcome improvement,” she said on iNews, “particularly as the Government has said it will be achieved with domestic action, not by using international credits to massage the figures.”
“But leaving out emissions from aviation and shipping is a major weakness, especially when aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions. And while the new target starts to close the gap between the UK’s policies and targets, we are still working towards a date of 2050 for net zero emissions, and that’s too late to tackle an accelerating crisis.”