The Government has drafted a statutory instrument to amend the Climate Change Act of 2008 to account for a net-zero target by 2050 – a first among the G7 nations. The Prime Minister’s decision to implement the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), creating a legally binding net-zero carbon target for 2050, has been welcomed across the UK.

The Government has confirmed that it will follow the CCC’s framework using between 1-2% of GDP in 2050 which is same level of funding currently allocated to work related to compliance with the Climate Change Act’s existing 2050 target of 80% emissions cut, compared to a 1990 baseline. One notable expectation is that the Government will not adopt the CCC’s recommendation of bringing its 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales forward to 2035 or sooner. The Government is also not expected to make any amendments to the upcoming fourth and fifth carbon budgets in any attempt to drive faster progress towards the new 2050 target. The UK is currently behind on targets laid out in these budgets, largely due a lack of progress in decarbonising the transport and heat sectors.

Green leaders have come out in force to praise Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to amend the Climate Change Act of 2008 to account for a net-zero target by 2050 – and urged Ministers to detail how they plan to reach this long-term goal as soon as possible.

The move is being hailed as an historic moment for green policy in the UK, but some have argued that 2050 might be too little, too late. In addition, the Government’s decision to accept a proposed amendment that will enable it to reverse the zero-carbon decision if other nations fail to follow suit within the next five years has been widely criticised. If the UK is to be a leader, it must do so regardless and become an example of success.

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