U.K. Will Set Net Zero Emissions Target, Says Energy Minister

  • Government will enshrine Paris climate Accord into U.K. law
  • Question is `not whether but how' to set goal, says Leadsom

The U.K. government will set a target to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution from the economy, enshrining into law the climate change deal agreed by almost 200 countries in Paris in December.

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said the “question is not whether but how” it will put the Paris Accord into law. The agreement pledged to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and strive for warming to not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The government believes we will need to take the step of enshrining the Paris commitment to net zero emissions in U.K. law,” she told members of Parliament in London on Monday.

The 2008 Climate Change Act already commits the U.K. to cutting greenhouse gas emission by 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, and a net zero target would further enhance that ambition.

Leadsom was responding to a cross-party amendment to the Energy Bill tabled by the former Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband. Miliband agreed to withdraw the amendment and said the government’s response was “a victory.”

“It is the right thing to do because the science demands it, it makes economic sense and will build momentum in the fight against climate change,” Miliband said in a statement. “It is essential we build on the success of the Paris agreement and do not squander it, and I hope other countries will now follow the example of the U.K.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it expects to provide further details on when the net zero emissions target date will be set later this year, after it receives recommendations in the autumn from the Committee on Climate Change, which advises on policy.

“Bravo, U.K.,” said Emmanuel M. De Guzman, chairman of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 43 countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of rising sea levels and extreme weather events caused by warming temperatures.

“We hope this exemplary act of leadership is sustained and emulated, if not surpassed by other members of the European Union,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

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