We need to do much more to meet the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. I therefore strongly support a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
In early October 2018, the international body for assessing the science on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published a report on meeting the 1.5°C goal. It found that meeting this goal would lessen the damage of climate change, compared to a rise of 2°C. However, it found that meeting the goal would require rapid and far-reaching change. Importantly, it would mean achieving net zero emissions by around 2050.
Following publication of the IPCC report, the Government wrote to the UK’s independent adviser, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), to ask its advice on setting a date for achieving net zero emissions. I welcome the Government’s request for advice from the CCC. However, it is clear that its existing policies are demonstrably incompatible with meeting this goal. For example, it is cutting support for small scale renewables, scaling back assistance for electric vehicles and promoting shale gas exploration.
It is further worrying that the Government’s request to the CCC explicitly describes our emissions targets up to 2032 as “out of scope” of the advice it seeks. The IPCC report says we need a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030 to meet the 1.5°C goal. Any review of how the UK contributes to meeting the 1.5°C goal will inevitably find that our current targets to 2032 are insufficient. It is therefore hard to understand why the Government would choose to exclude these targets from the CCC’s advice. The Government should reconsider its request and allow the CCC to include rethinking our emissions goals up to 2032 in its advice.
As the UN Secretary General has said, climate change is an existential threat to humanity. The scale and scope of our policies to address it should not be defined by political compromise, but by what is necessary to keep temperatures within safe levels. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to press the Government on this issue at every opportunity.