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In a recent announcement ahead of COP26, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set one of the world’s most ambitious climate change target by committing the country to cut its carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels and for the first time, in the U.K.’s sixth Carbon Budget, the government will incorporate the country’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions.
In alignment with the recommendation from the Independent Climate Change Committee, the sixth Carbon Budget will look to limit the amount of GHGs released over a 5-year period from 2033 to 2037, taking U.K. more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net-zero by 2050.
The budget will ensure that Britain is on track to end its contribution to climate change while working with the Paris Agreement targets to limit global warming to below 2°C.
The new target, which will be enshrined in law by the end of June 2021, is an increased one from the previous 68%. For the first time the budget will include U.K.’s contribution of international aviation and shipping emissions.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said to speed up their efforst on tackling climate change, the government is setting the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world. “The UK will be home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to net zero emissions, laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobs. We want to see world leaders follow our lead and match our ambition in the run up to the crucial climate summit COP26, as we will only build back greener and protect our planet if we come together to take action.”
The UK will be home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to net zero emissions, laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobsBoris Johnson, U.K’.s Prime Minister
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This latest target shows the world that the U.K. is serious about protecting the health of our planet, while also seizing the new economic opportunities it will bring and capitalising on green technologies – yet another step as we build back greener from the pandemic and we lead the world towards a cleaner, more prosperous future for this generation and those to come.”
According to a report from the Climate Change Committee, to achieve the new target, several green solutions will have to be employed including increase in the use of renewables, opt for electric cars, make all homes energy-efficient, ditch meat and dairy and switch to a plant-based diet, reduce flights and car trips and plant more woodlands.
In renewable electricity generation, U.K. claims to have broken all records and since 2010 has quadrupled the production with low carbon electricity ocntributing to 50% of its total generation.
We want to see world leaders follow our lead and match our ambition in the run up to the crucial climate summit COP26, as we will only build back greener and protect our planet if we come together to take actionBoris Johnson, U.K’.s Prime Minister
However, several climate activists heard the news and emphasized the need of soild policy changes to achieve the new target.
In an interview with BBC, co-founder of Possible, the climate change innovation charity, Leo Murray said that the new target is “fantastic”. “However, we’re not on track to meet previous climate commitments and in many ways the government is still failing.”
Murray highlighted that the government has continued to expand airports, ditched the Green Homes Grant that calls for insulating homes and “still pushing for a GBP£27B (approx. US$37B) roads budget”.
Director at E3G, the environment think tank E3G, Tom Burke, said: “The most important thing, I think, is for [the prime minister] to focus his policy around energy efficiency, around wind and solar, and around storage of electricity and the management of the grid.”
Burke added: “At the moment it’s a bit of Boris blunderbuss and is a huge range of marginal things instead of a concentration of effort on those things that will deliver the most emissions reductions in the fastest time.”
Apart from this, U.K. has even reduced the international aid budget that helps support crucial life-saving climate interventions and is even overseeing a plan for an underground coal mine that is supposed to be built within 30 years.
This news just came days before Johnson addressed the opening session of the U.S. Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden who announced his plans as well for climate change which aims to cut the country’s carbon emissions to half of what they were back in 2005 by 2030.
Lead image courtesy of Markus Spiske/Pexels.