Lib Dems propose ‘carbon-free’ Britain by 2050

The Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to bring forward the UK's climate targets by a decade as a new report suggests that the country is on course to miss the Paris Agreement objectives.

The UK’s Climate Change Act commits the Government to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. But the Lib Dems believe the Government should “set a global example” by bringing forward this target forward to 2040, with a vision for a “carbon-free”Britain a decade later. 

The Party passed a motion at its Autumn Conference on Friday (15 September) which proposed this early target, which would be met by investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, low-carbon transport and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“Experts have made it clear that a carbon-free future is within our grasp, if every industry adapts to reduce emissions and if the Government takes the right actions,” Baroness Lynne Featherstone said.

“We are calling on Theresa May to bring forward decarbonisation targets by ten years and start delivering a radical plan to ensure the UK can meet them.”

Zero-carbon pathway

Featherstone yesterday launched a report that warns the UK is not on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The study maps out a pathway to get the country back on track, with investment in solar, onshore wind and tidal power, and the development of smart grids and energy storage, all proposed as potential methods to enhance the UK’s low-carbon strategy.

These devices could be employed at the expense of nuclear energy, of which there are “legitimate concerns” around cost and ability to deliver projected capacity, according to the report. 

The Government is due to shortly release the long-awaited Clean Growth Plan, which will outline the country’s bid to limit annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032. The Plan was due for release this month although speculation has arisen over the past week that businesses could be waiting until the new year for its publication. 

Speaking at Climate Week in New York yesterday, Climate Change Minister Claire Perry reiterated that the UK is making good progress on achieving its climate targets, saying: “The UK is decarbonising faster than any other G20 nation – since 1990 we have cut emissions by more than a third while growing the economy by two thirds, and the Government is determined to drive up the pace of decarbonisation while maximising the opportunities for growth from the global transition to a clean economy.”

The Lib Dems, which called for a second EU referendum during the General Election campaign, have also called for the creation of a new watchdog to protect the environment post-Brexit. A new Office for Environmental Responsibility would play a crucial role in ensuring high standards on issues such as air quality and beach cleanliness, the Party insists.

George Ogleby

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