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UK net-zero emissions by 2050

2 May 2019

Following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5°C in October 2018, many governments around the world are discussing strategies on how to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The UK, Scottish and Welsh governments asked their official climate advisors, the committee on climate change (CCC), for advice on how and when net-zero emissions can be reached across the UK.

Today, the CCC published a comprehensive 277 page report as a response. The CCC recommends a new target for UK greenhouse gas emissions: reaching net-zero by 2050. The recommendations are in line with the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015. The CCC report states that this target is achievable with known technologies, efforts from industry and the public, and at a manageable cost of 1-2% of GDP each year. Well-designed policies are needed now to facilitate this transition.

Prof Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts Research at the Met Office and Chair in Climate Impacts at the University of Exeter and also chair of the RMetS Climate Science Special Interest Group notes: “The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to 1.5C, but there is still a huge gulf between these ambitions and the reality of current international commitments.  This means that the world is still on track for major climate change impacts.  To help minimise these impacts, the CCC’s analysis shows how the UK can take a lead in reducing emissions faster.  As well as the big things that could be done by government and large organisations, they also make practical suggestions for individuals – so anyone wondering ‘what can I do?’ will find this useful.”

Carbon Brief has published a comprehensive Q&A covering the process by which the report was prepared, the strategies by which the UK could reach net-zero by 2050, the costs and benefits of it and what happens next.

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