Britain should set its sights higher and commit to weaning off greenhouse emissions entirely by the middle of the century, the government has been urged.
Business groups today called on ministers to adopt the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) proposal to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050.
The plan would, if accepted, make Britain’s climate policies among the most ambitious in the world.
“It starts with a big, bold, ambitious target, which we have. The government now needs to adopt it,” Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) told City A.M.
To reach the target, the CCC said, the government will need to bring forward its 2040 goal to rid Britain of new petrol and diesel cars to at least 2035, but preferably as soon as 2030.
It would also require widespread use of carbon capture and storage systems in industry, a near quadrupling of the number of wind turbines in UK waters, and reforesting swathes of farmland.
“To achieve net zero, we have to put the pedal to the metal on our world-leading wind industry,” said Renewable UK deputy chief executive Emma Pinchbeck.
Brits would also need to become more vegan, cutting back around 20 per cent of the meat and dairy they eat.
The government is widely expected to adopt the new targets, which the CCC says will not be more expensive than current goals to reduce emissions by 80 per cent.
Those estimates, that Britain will pay between one to two per cent of GDP every year are still the same for the more ambitious target, as prices for green technology fall.
The new target is needed to meet the UK’s commitments as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the CCC said.
“The challenge to Parliament and government is: You can do it. And if we don’t do it, it’s because you’ve chosen not to do it,” said CCC chair Lord Deben.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it would not “immediately” accept the recommendations in the report, but would respond in due course.
The CCC’s call comes after weeks of increased debate over the issues posed by climate change.
Protesters gridlocked parts of central London for much of last week, gluing themselves to buildings, and over 1,000 people were arrested.
A survey conducted for the Times yesterday showed that concern about the environment is now at its highest point since Yougov started asking the question.