Comment: UK to review climate targets

Speaking today at the Commonwealth Summit (CHOGM), climate minister Claire Perry said that she will instruct the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to formally advise the Government on strengthening the UK’s legally-binding emissions target in the light of the Paris Agreement. The Committee will deliver its advice after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a landmark scientific report in October.

Claire Perry Rio 1 Cropped

Claire Perry was speaking at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Responding, Lord Michael Howard said: “The Government is to be congratulated for this clear demonstration of British leadership on climate change, which in the quarter century since the Rio Earth Summit has benefited both the nation and the world.

“The Climate Change Act has proven its worth, but as science and diplomacy move on, it should of course be kept under review – and the tougher international targets agreed at the Paris summit make it likely that the UK’s own target will need to be strengthened.

“The announcement will be well received by our friends in the Commonwealth; many are deeply concerned about climate change, and this will be seen as evidence that Britain remains as committed as ever to working with them in pursuit of our common aims.”

Professor Joanna Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said: “The science is clear: in order halt climate change, we have to move to net zero emissions – and to meet the Paris Agreement temperature goals, we have to do so around mid-century.

“So although the UK Climate Change Act was ground-breaking in its day, its existing 80% target now looks somewhat inadequate; other nations have already set net zero targets in line with the Paris Accord, and the UK should logically adopt one too.

“As both a scientist and a mother I applaud the government for this step, and look forward to working with ministers to bring the net zero vision into reality.”

Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “Climate science is now crystal clear that in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement, governments need to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions - and for developed nations, that has to happen by mid-century at the latest.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to say this in its landmark report in October, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change has already said it, and other governments such as France, Sweden and New Zealand have already set net zero emission targets.

“The big prize for the UK is to become the first G7 and first Perm5 country to commit to net zero, and to do so in law. That, plus taking the steps necessary to achieve net zero emissions, really would enable the UK to grasp the flag of ‘climate leader’.”