The UK today became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.
The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels.
The law comes into force today, after it passed the House of Commons and the House of Lords this week.
The government said in a statement today that the UK has already reduced emissions by 42% while growing the economy by 72%.
The UK’s 2050 net zero target – one of the most ambitious in the world – was recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisory body. Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage
The country’s nuclear industry has welcomed the legislation, but has said there is “a clear and urgent need to replace the ageing nuclear fleet – which will be all but gone by 2030”.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, said the nuclear industry can deliver affordable clean power, develop new technologies and create thousands of highly skilled jobs in the process.
Mr Greatrex said earlier this month that without swift decision-making the UK is heading for a significant gap in its clean generation capacity that cannot be reliably filled without increasing, rather than reducing, emissions levels.