May pledges to end UK contribution to climate change by 2050

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050, amending the Climate Change Act 2008.

The change in legislation will mean that the UK is on track to become the first G7 country to legislate for net zero emissions, with other major economies expected to follow suit. The government says that the UK will conduct a further assessment within five years to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action, multiplying the effect of the UK’s lead and ensuring that our industries do not face unfair competition.

The Committee on Climate Change recently forecast significant benefits to public health and savings to the NHS from better air quality and less noise pollution, as well as improved biodiversity.

May said: “As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change. We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions.

“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth. Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.”

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “I’m delighted to see the Prime Minister set a legal target for the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is not only the right thing to tackle the climate emergency for future generations but a huge opportunity to increase our energy efficiency, improve our resilience and deliver a greener, healthier society.

“We know that investing in zero carbon solutions is good for growth - boosting jobs and the economy - and it is cheaper for business, organisations and government to tackle climate change now than to manage its impacts in the future. The Environment Agency is already working to tackle the climate emergency. Today’s announcement gives a powerful boost to all our prospects for the future and a common goal to achieve together.”

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