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Published on 10 July 2019

The UK, home of the industrial revolution and historically one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, has committed to get to net zero by 2050!

That means massively reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that we produce, and offsetting those that we can’t eliminate through tree planting and other technologies.

For everyone who’s ever campaigned to prevent climate breakdown, you’ve helped bring us to this tipping point.

Whether you’ve been speaking out, writing to MPs, protesting, spreading the word or sending postcards, one of the world’s major economies will now legislate to stop its contribution to climate change, thanks to you! 

But the longer we leave it to get to net zero, the more irreversible damage we’ll have done, and the worse the effects of climate change will be. That’s why the government’s announcement does not go far enough.

2045 is the latest point

We firmly believe that 2045 is the latest point at which we can safely reach net zero greenhouse-gas emissions. The poorest people on the front lines of climate breakdown cannot wait while we drag our heels – despite being least to blame, they are suffering the consequences now.   

On top of that, the Climate Change Committee advised the government not to include any international offsets in their net zero calculations, so it is very disappointing to see the government keeping this option open.

Allowing for international carbon offsetting means the UK could continue to burn fossil fuels at home, in exchange for spending money overseas to offset those emissions – for example by planting trees.

We believe this slows down our ability to tackle the root causes of the climate crisis and shifts the burden to other countries who don’t have the same historical responsibility that we do.

It is vital that the government ensures real emissions reductions are made within the UK and not merely outsourced through dodgy loopholes. Otherwise this target will end up as state-sponsored greenwashing. 

The need for total transformation

Until the policies to enact the commitment to net zero are implemented, the latest announcement is nothing more than warm words. The year 2050, and even 2045, might seem a long way away, but the action needs to start immediately.

To reach the goal, we need a total transformation of our energy system, transport, and a different attitude to consumption. The sooner we start, the easier it will be and the bigger the benefits for everyone; clean air, warm homes, better public transport.  

So, we can celebrate that the UK has woken up to the threat of climate change. But they haven’t gone far enough, so don’t stop writing those letters, marching, lobbying and talking to others about why the climate emergency matters. We need you more than ever! 

On 26 June, 12,000 people came to London and met with over 350 MPs to demand action to end the UK’s contribution to climate breakdown. Together, we made it clear that 2050 is not soon enough and that we need immediate action to put us on track to reaching net zero.

Keep up that pressure by emailing your MP now

The time for action on climate and the environment is now.