"Every year that goes by before emissions get to zero, increases the risk of triggering catastrophic tipping points in the climate system."
Theresa May has pledged a new government target for Britain to be ‘net zero’ in carbon emissions by 2050 – going further than the current goal of an 80% reduction in emissions.
The UK will be the first G7 nation to put this into law if Mrs May gets it through in the next couple of weeks. It will mean that Theresa May has finally accepted the recommendations of the influential Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
However, climate movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) have said the move remains a ‘death sentence’ for the environment.
In a statement, the group said:
“Given that it is now agreed it is not just possible but necessary to reach carbon neutrality, why are we waiting until 2050? The targets…pass the burden of holding the world to 1.5C on to the shoulders of the poorest countries who did the least to cause the problem.
“Every year that goes by before emissions get to zero, increases the risk of triggering catastrophic tipping points in the climate system.”
XR want Britain to reach ‘net zero’ in the next decade – a move which would require far more radical and immediate action.
“Greta Thunberg says the house is on fire. The PM says we will put it out in 30 years. If Theresa May wants to have a legacy we say think bigger. We need to take action now – not next year, next decade, not by 2050,” XR said.
“Let’s not mince words, 2050 is a death sentence: people are already dying and this will only get worse with far off dates,” the group added.
They added the fact Mrs May only addressed climate change in her final acts as PM shows that ‘politicians only seem able to contemplate action on climate change when thinking about their legacy’. “If the current system encourages politicians to suppress their true feelings about ambitious action, then that is going to require systemic solutions. Let’s reform democracy and listen to the people: we desperately need a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice,” the group said.
The 2050 target is based on spending 1-2% of GDP to decarbonise our economy over 30 years – with Chancellor Philip Hammond reportedly pushing for a ‘full costing’ of the plan.
However, XR did ‘welcome’ the PM’s move to finally talk about the climate crisis: “This is a testament to the public pressure – including the more than 1,000 people willingly arrested for this cause – that is forcing politicians to confront the existential reality of the climate and ecological emergency. But it is not nearly enough.”
The Committee on Climate Change states that the cost to economic growth of reaching ‘net zero’, compared with an 80% reduction target, are likely to be small – less than one year’s GDP growth – and could even be positive. It would also give the UK a significant international advantage in green technology and industries.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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