Carbon emissions in the UK will be cut back to zero by the year 2050, a new legislation stated on Wednesday, June 12th.
Prime Minister Theresa May officially resigned from office on June 7th but is still serving in the position until her successor will be found. Since the contest for the next leader of the Conservative party and prime minister of the UK is expected to take several weeks, May is busy putting big policy changes into place.
The commitment to reach zero percent of greenhouse gas emissions was a step up from the previous 2050 target, which was agreed by MPs under the Climate Change Act in 2008 and promised to reduce emissions by 80%.
British newspaper The Guardian reported that the new goal to reach ‘net zero’ was to be made in an amendment to the Climate Change Act and was laid out in parliament on Wednesday. The change would make the UK the first major nation to propose this target and received praise from green groups. The paper interpreted the move as May trying to “cement some legacy in the weeks before she steps down as prime minister”.
Some environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, warned however that even though the goal was welcomed, the plan to reach it would mean the UK might “shift the burden to developing nations”. The argument is based on carbon credits which can be attributed internationally, when a country pays for cuts to emissions to be made elsewhere. Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Doug Parr, was cited by The Guardian as referring to the tactic as “loopholes” that would need to be unpicked.
May published several posts on her Twitter account, saying that she received plenty of support for the net zero emission target from “businesses, faith leaders and climate change campaigners”.
As a response to that support she shared a written statement confirming that the UK would be the first major economy in the world to set the target in law.
Both 10 Downing Street and Theresa May’s social media accounts shared a post saying, “The UK’s contribution to climate change will end by 2050” and called the country a world leader in tackling the issue.
The BCC reported that May also promised reducing pollution would benefit public health and cut NHS costs. The NHS is the UK’s national health service.