The UK has enshrined in law a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050, becoming the first major economy to legislate to curb its global warming contribution.
That compares with a previous target to slash greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels.
“The UK kickstarted the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions,” said Chris Skidmore, the government’s energy and clean growth minister.
“Today we’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
The UK has so far cut 1990 emissions levels by 42 per cent, the government said.
Its net zero target was recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, an independent climate advisory body.
To achieve the target the UK would offset greenhouse gas emissions with schemes to take away equivalent amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Potential ways of doing so includes planting trees, or using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
CCS can remove up to 90 per cent of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels used to generate electricity and power plants, according to the CCS Association.
The new law comes into effect immediately after the Commons and Lords passed it earlier this week.
“We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy,” Skidmore added.
This new target follows weeks of climate change protests that saw more than 1,000 activists arrested as a group called Extinction Rebellion swarmed across London in April.
Protesters closed off key traffic spots such as Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch and Oxford Street, and also targeted London’s financial district.
The group called for the UK to fully de-carbonise the economy by 2025, among other aims.