In a largely symbolic move, Parliament declared a climate emergency, admitting the need for a cross-party approach that would enable the UK to set a world-leading standard on climate action.

During a debate at the House of Commons, the Labour Party Leader tabled a motion for the UK parliament to become the first in the world to declare a climate emergency in recognition that legislative action to date has not been enough to address the issue. Corbyn stated that current trajectories would put the world on course to reach net-zero emissions by the end of the century. The Secretary of State for the environment cited the recent hottest years on record as undeniable evidence of climate change and called for a cross-party approach to tackle climate change once and for all.

In response, the House of Commons declared a climate emergency with a view to setting new policies that would aim to inspire action from parliaments and governments around the globe. The motion was passed after the Prime Minister decided against vetoing the motion, instead aiming to refocus on Local Election campaigns.

The declaration followed weeks of climate protests, ranging from the school children striking inspired by the by 16-year old activist Greta Thunberg, and protests led by the Extinction Rebellion activist group. The devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments have already made individual declarations of climate emergencies. Both declarations by the devolved parliaments noted the significant findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report, which warned that the world is already more than 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels, and that an increase to 2°C would significantly heighten the risks of droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for millions of people.

Advice on a net-zero target was also published by the Climate Change Committee and was specifically requested by Government officials following a host of business, academic and green economy experts calling for a target to be set that raised the UK’s climate ambitions. More than 100 MPs signed a letter calling on Prime Minister to establish a net-zero emissions target for 2050.

The IPCC report predicted that, if the world can become carbon-neutral by 2047, we will have a 66% chance of meeting the most ambitious end of the Paris Agreement pledge. The delivery of a carbon-neutral planet hinges on nations committing to net-zero emissions in the timeframe, a move which the UK is now being called upon to make.

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