Carbon emissions with sunset

Government seeks expert advice about zero-carbon target date

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Climate experts are to give advice to the UK Government on whether it should set a date for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy, including from transport, industry and agriculture.

It is also looking into whether it will need to review the current 2050 target of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent relative to 1990 levels to meet international climate targets set out in Paris Agreement.

Although the UK’s electricity network has been sourcing record amounts of power from renewable facilities in recent years, it is still expected to miss legally binding carbon targets due to falling investment in the sector.

Government estimates show that there are almost 400,000 jobs in the low-carbon economy at present, but energy minister Claire Perry said that a bolstered green economy could see this figure reach two million by 2030 under the right investment conditions. This would supposedly generate up to £170bn of annual exports.

The move also comes a week after a United Nations report warned the world needs to make unprecedented changes in the way people use energy to curb global temperature rises and limit the worst effects of climate change such as more extreme weather and loss of species.

“The evidence is clear – governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced,” Perry said. “The case for tackling climate change is more stark than ever before.”

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate at WWF said: “Last week scientists from around the world said we had 12 years to tackle climate change. Governments can no longer shirk their responsibilities.

“It’s time to act and, crucially, embrace the opportunities a green economy presents. Done right, this could be the biggest economic opportunity in history, driving innovation, job creation and better living standards.”

Under the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015, more than 190 nations pledged to pursue efforts to limit a rise in global temperatures this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

US president Donald Trump backed out of the agreement last year over concerns about the impact it would have on jobs and the US economy as well as personal beliefs around the validity of climate change theories.

Over the weekend Trump admitted that claims he made in the past that climate change is a hoax were incorrect but he said he does not know if it is manmade.

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Trump said he does not want to put the US at a disadvantage in responding to climate change.

“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

Trump called climate change a hoax in November 2012 when he sent a tweet stating, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

He later said he was joking about the Chinese connection, but in years since has continued to call global warming a hoax.

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