UK to beef up carbon targets ahead of COP26

Plans are being put in place to radically alter the UK’s current climate change targets ahead of the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of the year.

The news, due to be announced by prime minister Boris Johnson later this week, will see the UK reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.

In order to hit such targets, the UK would have to rapidly accelerate its movement to electric vehicles, a low carbon grid and heating, more renewable energy infrastructure and changing its models of diary and meat production, as well as other agriculture.

Perhaps most radically of all, and often considered a debated point amongst climate activists, is that legislation will also cover international aviation and shipping to the UK.

Despite the ambitious goals, Labour described the plans as “rhetoric” and wants the Government to show great ambition with the current climate emergency rather than looking to the future. Other environmental lobby groups have also questioned the news, including how it would be funded, and also that the UK is currently struggling to meet its current carbon budgets within the looser targets already set.

Shadow business secretary and former energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said the move was “targets without delivery” and although it was the right thing to change the targets, the government “can’t be trusted to match rhetoric with reality”.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas also commented, stating that the government needed to address “an outdated and exploitative economic system” that treats the world as expendable.

The new ambitions would bring forward the current targets for reducing carbon emissions by 15 years – in line with the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations – and would make the UK a world-leading state in terms of climate change legislation.

According to the CCC recommendations, the government would need to invest around £50bn a year to meet goals – and also be met with huge private sector involvement and consumer take-up of low-carbon technologies, such as EVs. Around 1% of GDP needs to be spent on moving away from fossil fuels over a 30 year period, according to the CCC.

Image from Shutterstock.

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