Britain commits to goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday set a goal for the nation to reach net zero carbon emissions within about 30 years — the first major economy in the world to set that kind of goal.

May, who stepped down as Conservative Party leader last week but remains prime minister until a successor is chosen next month, made an amendment to the Climate Change Act Wednesday that will be considered in Parliament. It sets a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

May is expected to make the plan official in a meeting Wednesday with scientists and engineering students, who will become part of a youth group on climate change.

“This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth,” May said. “Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.”

The net zero carbon goal is a bipartisan issue that’s expected to be approved by British Parliament.

Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace U.K., said the plan is something Britain can be proud of, but said the target date should be moved forward.

“As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, it is right that the UK is the world’s first major economy to commit to completely end its contribution to climate change, but trying to shift the burden to developing nations through international carbon credits undermines that commitment,” Parr said. “This type of offsetting has a history of failure.”

Committee on Climate Change Chairman John Gummer said the target was “necessary, feasible and cost effective.”

“This is just the first step. The target must now be reinforced by credible UK policies, across government, inspiring a strong response from business, industry and society as a whole,” Gummer said.

The committee recommends phasing out gas and diesel vehicles by 2030, instead of Britain’s current goal of doing so by 2040.

France proposed net zero legislation earlier this year, Finland has set a goal for 2035 and Norway 2030.

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