Tuesday 20 April 2021 1:34 pm

UK to hike emissions cut plans ahead of US climate summit

The UK has announced a hike in its pledged fossil fuel emission cuts in a year that ends with its hosting of the COP26 climate summit.

Boris Johnson has today made a new commitment to cutting emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, up from 68 per cent in 2030.

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Johnson said: “We want to continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change, and that’s why we’re setting the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world,” 

Such a commitment would further strengthen the UK’s credentials as a leader in the transition to a carbon neutral economy. Its current pledges already leave it among the most ambitious economies.

Tomorrow, MPs will vote the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) sixth carbon budget, which was released in December, into law.

The CCC’s chief executive Chris Stark described the decision to adopt its recommendations as a “historic milestone”.

“I am delighted at this news; this is an important and historic decision. In committing to cut emissions by almost 80% in 2035, the UK has taken its place at the forefront of global efforts to reach Net Zero – crucial in the fight against climate change”, he added.

“By implementing our recommendations in full, the Government’s decision rests on the most comprehensive ever assessment of the path to a fully decarbonised economy.”

However, the Labour Party questioned the government’s ability to match “rhetoric to reality”.

“The character of this government on climate change is now clear: targets without delivery. So while any strengthening of our targets is the right thing to do, the government can’t be trusted to match rhetoric with reality”, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said.

“Ministers have failed to bring forward an ambitious green recovery, passing up three major fiscal events to do so. They are flirting with proposals for a new deep coal mine, axed the vital housing retrofit scheme, and are way off track for our net zero targets.

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“We need a Government that treats the climate emergency as the emergency it is. That means greater ambition than this government matched with much more decisive action. This year, as hosts of COP26, the UK has a particular responsibility to lead the world and show the way forward for a greener future. This Government isn’t up to the task.”

The announcement will come ahead of a major climate summit which is set to be hosted by US President Joe Biden on Thursday.

It is expected that the US will announce an emissions reduction target in line with the UK’s, the FT reported.

Among the sectors to be targeted under the new plans are international aviation and shipping, which make up a combined 10 per cent of UK emissions, according to the CCC.

However, to be successful in hitting its goal – and the longer-term 2050 net zero target – the UK will also have to commit to a wholesale overhaul of its energy networks and see a shift in consumer habits.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “We will set our ambition for Carbon Budget 6 shortly, taking into account the latest advice from the Climate Change Committee.”

Read more: UK working to deliver in-person COP26 climate summit, says Sharma

Over the weekend, the US and China issued a statement saying that they would work together to combat climate change.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” it said.