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UK Passes Net Zero Emissions Pledge Into Law

The UK became on Thursday the first major economy in the world to enshrine in a law its target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, two weeks after the government announced plans to pass the net zero emissions pledge into law.

Under the law, the UK will be required to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050, compared to a previous target of at least an 80-percent emissions reduction from 1990 levels.

According to UK government figures from March 2019, provisional estimates suggest that total UK greenhouse gas emissions last year were 43.5 percent lower than in 1990 and 2.5 percent lower than in 2017, thanks to a shift in the UK’s electricity generation mix toward renewables and away from coal-fired power generation.

Commenting on the new law passed today, the UK’s Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.”

Related: $4.5-Trillion: The Price Tag of A Fossil Fuel-Free U.S.

Last month, the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisory body, recommended that the country set the 2050 net zero emissions target, calling on the UK government to urgently adopt new policies for anything from eating habits to energy consumption to avert the worst effects of climate change.

The UK’s oil and gas authorities, however, have a goal to maximize oil and gas recovery in the North Sea, which, climate groups warn, is undermining the Paris Agreement goals of the UK.

According to Friends of the Earth UK, the country could achieve net zero emissions if it phases out polluting cars by 2030, generates 8 times more renewable electricity, shifts from natural gas in heating and replace it with renewables, doubles the tree cover in the UK, and halves food waste by 2030. If the government were to follow these steps, it could get the UK to net zero by 2045 or even earlier, according to Friends of the Earth UK. The government, however, is not in a rush to act on any of these, although it aims for a cleaner and greener economy.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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