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UK Climate Act needs update

UK Climate Act needs update 9 April 2018

10 years of success, but the UK climate change act needs an upgrade (via Climate Home)

By John Krebs and Joanna Haigh

The UK’s Climate Change Act is a pioneering and far–sighted piece of legislation, ushered in ten years ago by a remarkable cross–party consensus in parliament and clear support across the nation.

As we celebrate its tenth anniversary, it is time to ask, though, whether the central ambition of the act – reducing carbon emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 – is still adequate in light of changing circumstances, or whether it needs strengthening.

Climate scientists are clear that global carbon emissions will have to fall to net zero at some point if the rise in average temperature is to be halted. This is because as long as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase, the temperature is likely to keep on rising. (“Net zero” means that although there may be a small amount of carbon dioxide being emitted each year to the atmosphere, an equivalent amount will be absorbed and stored.)

The UK government, along with all others, acknowledged this reality by signing up first to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2014, and then the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

The IPCC said that meeting the 2C target then in place “…would require that global net emissions of CO? eventually decrease to zero”. In the Paris Agreement governments committed “…to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”. In 2016, the UK’s then energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, told parliament: “The government believes that we will need to take the step of enshrining the Paris goal for net zero emissions in UK law.”

Read more via Climate Home…