UK commits to Carbon Neutrality Coalition to deliver net-zero emissions

Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will be joining 18 other countries that have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the earliest, while also setting aside £160m to help developing nations transition to cleaner energy systems.

The UK, Danish, Canadian and Spanish Governments will be the latest members of the Carbon Neutrality Coalition – an initiative led by New Zealand and the Marshall Islands to deliver ambitious actions in support of the Paris Agreement aim of net-zero emissions by the second half of the century.

The 19 members of the Coalition have now adopted a Plan of Action – launched today (27 September) – to deliver accelerated decarbonisation. It takes into account the conclusions of the upcoming IPCC report on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, set to be released next month.

Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mark Field, said: “Our planet’s future depends on how quickly we can become carbon neutral. To do this, and to meet our Paris commitments, countries need ambitious, long-term plans to reduce carbon emissions.

“The UK is proud to join this international coalition of countries and cities, and we look forward to working towards a healthier, safer future together.”

The UK is currently committed to the 2008 Climate Change Act – the world-leading target which legally binds the UK to emissions reductions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. While the new declaration is a welcome step towards net-zero emissions, it doesn’t necessarily mean a new target will be enshrined for 2050.

The Conservative Environment Network (CEN) has been campaigning for a commitment to net-zero emissions and has welcomed the announcement. CEN’s director, Sam Richards, said: “It’s fantastic news that the UK will join the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and work alongside allies in the fight against climate change like New Zealand to go net zero by 2050.

“We know that in order to stop climate change we need to reach net zero by 2050. Leading the way offers the UK the chance to secure good green jobs – such as manufacturing electric vehicles and offshore wind turbines – while restoring our countryside to act as a sink of any remaining carbon emissions.”

Coalition members will have to develop and share long-term emissions reductions strategies before 2020. The strategies will require climate change to become central in government decision-making, while promoting the social and economic benefits that the transition can bring. The Carbon Neutrality Coalition came out of the One Planet Summit in December 2017.

The commitment comes just days after Labour committed itself to a net-zero target of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Earlier in the year, Former Labour leader Ed Miliband called on the UK Government to enshrine a new net-zero emissions target for 2050. More than 100 MPs have since signed a letter calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to commit to a net-zero target.

The Government’s Fifth Carbon Budget, covering 2028 to 2032, agrees to reduce emissions by an average of 57% on 1990 levels over the period.

£160m programme

The net-zero goal will require increased capital investment into low-carbon technology. Earlier today May announced £160m in funding towards climate projects. Around £60m has been set aside for technical assistance to share expertise on energy market reform, transition to clean growth, green finance and climate legislation across other nations.

The remainder of the fund will focus on mitigating climate impacts and supporting families affected by droughts in Northern Kenya and helping farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa build resilience against extreme weather conditions.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “We were one of the first countries to recognise the challenge and huge economic opportunities of the global shift to a greener, cleaner economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our Industrial Strategy.

“Now we want to share our world-leading expertise with developing countries. This £60m programme could provide the boost they need to begin their own clean growth movements, building economies fit for the future.”

The UK Government has committed £5.8bn of funding between 2016 and 2020 to assist developing countries in reducing emissions and mitigating climate impacts.

Matt Mace


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