Think tank calls for zero emissions target

Conservative think tank Bright Blue has called on the government to mark ten years since the Climate Change Act by announcing this year a new legal net zero emissions target

In a new report, Hotting up, the think tank says there is a strong scientific, technological, legal, and political case for the UK Government to achieve deeper decarbonisation in the decades ahead, including through the adoption of new legal net zero emission target.

The report shows that over the past decade: climate science has developed to such an extent that it highlights the need for urgent and deeper action to tackle climate change; decarbonisation in some sectors of the economy is now much cheaper and in others is more practical because of innovations, including technologies which are now operating or soon will be; and, finally, progress in the international legal framework, especially the ratification of the 2015 Paris Agreement, has made the UK’s climate targets less ambitious than the international goals to which it is committed.

As this is the tenth anniversary of the Climate Change Act 2008, Bright Blue is pushing for the UK Government to

Commenting Sam Hall, Bright Blue Head of Research and co-author of the report, says:

“The UK has a long tradition of international leadership on tackling climate change.

“This year, as other countries consider adopting stronger climate targets in order to deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement, this Conservative Government has another opportunity to lead by making the UK the first G7 country to enshrine in law a net zero emissions target.

“Eliminating entirely the UK’s domestic emissions is essential for properly tackling climate change. At the same time, it could help increase the ambition of other countries’ climate targets and support new UK low-carbon industries that can export their products and services abroad. Indeed, this could be a key component of the UK Government’s post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ strategy.”

Bright Blue’s main recommendations in Hotting up are:

  • A legally binding net zero greenhouse gas emission target in line with the Paris Agreement.
  • The ability to use carbon permits, annually reviewed, to provide flexibility in meeting the target.
  • Fund farmers to store carbon on their land, through a new market-based commissioning scheme for rural payments when the UK leaves the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
  • Establish and lead an international net zero alliance. Similar to the UK and Canada’s Powering Past Coal Alliance to encourage other countries to stop burning coal, this new net zero alliance should be distinct from, but complementary to, the Paris Agreement. Other countries, such as Norway and Sweden, have already adopted net zero emissions targets and could be potential partners on this campaign.

Further reading

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