Government confirms zero-emission Paris goal to be enshrined in law

March 15, 2016

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom says net zero Paris goal will be written into UK law following advice from the Committee on Climate Change in the autumn. The government has promised to enshrine a key Paris commitment to deliver a ‘net-zero’ emission economy into UK law, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom told the House of Commons yesterday.

Responding to calls by former Labour leader Ed Miliband for a new legislative goal in support of the Paris Agreement, Leadsom said the government is seeking to “build on the momentum of Paris” and will produce a plan for enshrining the net-zero emissions target into law later this year.

The announcement means the UK’s legal target to reduce emissions will be tightened from its current goal of an 80 per cent reduction against 1990 levels by 2050 under the Climate Change Act to a net-zero target by the second half of the century, bringing it in line with international pledges made in Paris in December.

“The government believes that we will need to take the step of enshrining the Paris goal for net zero emissions in UK law,” Leadsom told MPs. “The question is not whether but how we do it. There is an important set of questions to be answered before we do. The Committee on Climate Change is looking at the implications of the commitments in Paris and has said it will report in the Autumn. We will want to consider carefully the recommendations of the Committee.”

The UK is already bound by the Climate Change Act (CCA) to reduce its emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, based on a 1990 baseline. However, a law requiring the UK to reduce its emissions to net zero represents a substantial increase in ambition, effectively mandating the decarbonisation of hard-to-reach sectors of the economy such as agriculture, heat and transportation.

The decision comes in response to a key amendment tabled by Miliband, which called for the Paris target to be added to UK law via the Energy Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament. The amendment won cross-party backing from MPs and follows months of campaigning from Miliband for the government to enshrine a higher emissions target into UK law.

Miliband welcomed Leadsom’s remarks and urged other countries to follow the UK’s lead. “It is the right thing to do because the science demands it, it makes economic sense and will build momentum in the fight against climate change,” he said. “It is essential we build on the success of the Paris agreement and do not squander it and I hope other countries will no follow the example of the UK.”

Source: Business Green