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Zero emissions: UK aims to be first of G7 with ‘ambitious’ target

London: Britain will toughen its climate targets and commit to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, becoming the first G7 nation to set such a goal, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.

The country currently aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

However campaigners say this does not go far enough to meet pledges made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to try to limit a rise in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Climate activists from the Extinction Rebellion group demonstrate in London in April.Credit:Bloomberg

"Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children," May said in a statement on Tuesday.

"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."

Legislation will be put before Parliament on Wednesday to amend the existing climate change act to incorporate the new target, the statement said.

New Zealand announced its zero carbon emissions target last month.

Theresa May delivers a speech at the Zero Emission Vehicle Summit in Birmingham last year.Credit:Bloomberg

Britain's independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, last month said Britain should move to the new target, which would require more renewable electricity generation and could require the phasing out of new petrol and diesel cars by at least 2035.

Households would also need to be weaned off natural gas heating and switch to low-carbon alternatives such as hydrogen or heat pumps.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, welcomed the move.

"Some sectors will need clear pathways to enable investment in low-carbon technologies and it is vital that there is cross-government co-ordination on the policies and regulation needed to deliver a clean future," she said.


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