Ambitious CO2 pledge 'needs clear policies'

The UK’s sixth Carbon Budget will incorporate 'the UK’s share' of international aviation and shipping emissions for the first time, and bring the country ‘more than three-quarters of the way to net zero by 2050’.

The UK Government will set in law a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, in line with the recommendation from the independent Climate Change Committee.

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The sixth budget limits the volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted over a five-year period from 2033 to 2037 Officials said it will ensure Britain remains on track to end its contribution to climate change while remaining consistent with the Paris Agreement.

For the first time, the Carbon Budget will incorporate what officials described as the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping.

Officials said the Government is already working towards its commitment to reduce emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared to 1990 levels.

Prime minister Boris 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.

‘The UK will be home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to net zero emissions, laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobs.’

Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said the target ‘provides an important signal of intent, and raises the bar on the level of collaboration that will be required between government and private sector’.

But he added: ‘Government urgently needs to set out clear, funded plans to support delivery of the infrastructure needed to support the journey to net zero.

‘The Commission repeats its call for detailed policies, developed in partnership with industry, to deliver the necessary developments such as sufficient electric vehicle charging points, taking concrete steps to decarbonise the country’s heating supply, and schemes to significantly improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s homes.’

Philip Dunne MP, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, called the target ‘incredibly ambitious but very welcome’.

He said: ‘With a little over six months to go until COP26, the climate leadership the UK has shown in committing to cut emissions by 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels is incredibly ambitious but very welcome.

‘This move is exactly what we need to see at this crunch point in needing to make the tough decisions to limit warming: to stimulate changes in behaviour and mobilise private sector investment to achieve dramatic change.

‘It is particularly impressive that for the first time, aviation and maritime emissions will be brought into scope. This new challenge will not be easy: the aviation and maritime industries contribute around 2.5% of global GHG emissions and have continued to grow rapidly over recent years.’

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union said: ‘The Government says it wants to cut carbon emissions but at the same time is planning to cut funding of public transport services as the massive cutbacks on Network Rail show.

’In the same year that the UK is hosting the vital COP26 global climate talks the hypocrisy from this Government is mind-blowing and they are clearly not taking the climate crisis seriously enough. The Government should be showing global leadership with a mass investment in rail, metro and bus services and infrastructure - instead, we’ve got them making backroom plans to make massive cuts to rail and public transport.’

He added: ‘The inclusion of international shipping and aviation emissions in domestic totals is overdue and there is no certainty over how ships of the future will be fuelled or how escalating emissions from the existing merchant fleet will be mitigated.'

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