British Government to Ask for Roadmap to Net Zero Emissions

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government has asked climate change experts whether it should set a date for a net zero emissions target, as pressure mounts on lawmakers to speed up pollution cuts.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has also asked the independent U.K. Committee on Climate Change to advise whether the 2050 target of slashing pollution by 80 percent, put forth in the international Paris climate agreement, should be moved up.

The announcement comes one week after a United Nations climate report called for urgent global action to slow the rate of global warming or face catastrophic consequences.

“Science is quite clear now that to stop climate change at any particular level, carbon emissions have to fall to net zero,” said Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a non-profit group that advises on energy and climate change issues in the U.K. “The previous Conservative government announced plans to set a net zero target in law, and last week’s IPCC report just brings the date forward.”

The atmosphere is already almost 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) hotter than it was at the start of the industrial revolution and on track to rise 3 degrees by 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. That’s double the pace envisioned by the 2015 Paris climate agreements endorsed by almost 200 nations.

The U.K. has reduced its emissions by 40 percent since 1990, largely because of a commitment to stop burning coal by 2025. It’s now a decade since the publication of the U.K. Climate Change Act, one of the first pieces of legislation to tackle climate issues put in place by a developed nation.

“We’re a world leader when it comes to tackling climate change and cutting carbon intensity, but the evidence is clear – governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced,” Energy Minister Claire Perry said.

Envoys and lawmakers from around the world will meet in Katowice, Poland, in December to agree on the rules for the landmark Paris Agreement.

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