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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

The UK’s new emissions target has been announced, with an aim to get to net zero by 2050.

Prof Piers Forster, Professor of Climate Change and Priestley Centre Director, University of Leeds, said:

“It’s a great target but other things need to be added to make it align with the ambition of the Paris Agreement. We need to see additional action on international aviation and shipping. We also need to support for developing countries that both enable them to decarbonise within 10 years of our own target, and to become resilient to the climate damage they continue to suffer as global warming continues.”


Prof Pete Smith FRS FRSE, Chair in Plant and Soil Science at the University of Aberdeen, said:

“Raising the UK’s ambition for emission reduction to 68% by 2030 from the previous pledge of 53% is ambitious and very welcome. I look forward to seeing the detail of the new NDC in full on 12th December. Commitments are easy to make, but more difficult to deliver, so I look forward to seeing a raft of ambitious new climate policies that will enable these commitments to become reality by the end of this decade.”


Prof David Reay, Professor of Carbon Management, University of Edinburgh, said:

“Make no mistake, this is a big step up in ambition for tackling climate change in the UK. Some will say it’s too low, some that it’s too high, but ultimately this is a commitment based on independent advice from the Climate Change Committee, and the pathway for emissions required through 2030 to then get us to net zero by 2050.

“Credit where it’s due, this is evidence-based policy making and the rest of the world will take note. Now comes the (very) hard part: realising these commitments in the face of new trade deals, Covid recovery and yellow vests.”


Prof Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford and Director of Oxford Net Zero, said:

“It’s great to lead on the headline numbers, but let’s also lead on the policies to achieve them. This cannot, and should not, be done with an unholy combination of taxpayers’ money and labyrinthine regulation. We need simple policies to ensure the private sector plays its part in delivering net zero – like Carbon Takeback, requiring importers and extractors of fossil fuels to dispose of the carbon dioxide generated by the fuels they sell.”


Dr Mirabelle Muûls, Assistant Professor in Economics, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, said:

“The UK is setting an ambitious new NDC, five years after the historic Paris Agreement, hopefully leading by example in preparation for COP26: we need global action for all countries to move fast enough towards limiting warming to well below 2C. However, investment beyond that announced in the ten-point plan will be needed to achieve such a goal. Strong policies, and in particular a price on carbon, are needed to incentivise businesses and people to change, for the transition to be just and for private investment to follow.  

“Specifying that the UK will not be using international credits to achieve its NDC means it will have to deliver through domestic action on its promises. While this is positive, the UK crucially needs to ensure that other countries take the same path through collaboration. This can be done by expanding climate finance, working towards an international carbon market and supporting developing countries in their transition.”

Dr Steve Smith, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford

“This is good news because it underlines the UK’s seriousness in making the climate negotiations a success. Climate action is one area where the UK can reasonably claim global leadership, and this keeps us near the front of the pack. But as a pack we are still too slow, despite some promising signs that the pace is picking up. Hopefully this move by the government inspires more action around the world.

“The next step is to make this happen. The government’s recent 10-point plan needed a few more points adding to it in order to meet the previous aim for 2030, let alone to go further. Being ambitious isn’t just about owing the world for our decades of high emissions; it’s also about getting on with creating jobs, homes and habitats fit for our future.”


Dr Phillip Williamson, Honorary Reader in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia (UEA), said:

“Of course this is good news: it would be churlish not to welcome increased ambition in target-setting for emission reductions in the decade ahead.  But it has not yet been made clear how the target will be achieved.  The 2020 Spending Review of just a week ago was a missed opportunity in that regard, failing to identify priority actions to build back greener at the scale required.”


Dr Chris Huntingford, climate modeller at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said:

“An expression used so often in climate change is ‘tipping point’, referring to where increased warming causes rapid and likely unwelcome changes to weather patterns. Here, a welcome tipping point might occur, as attitudes towards reining in climate change lead to the substantial lowering of UK emissions. The proposed creation of many employment opportunities in the green economy will support enthusiasm for emission cuts, and especially through any economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Prof Mark Maslin, Professor of Climatology, University College London (UCL), said:

“2021 will be a turning point for our planet.  It will be the year that we deal with Covid19 and the year we finally start to tackle climate change.  At the forefront of global effort to tackle climate change is the UK.  The Prime Minister has announced very ambitious new emissions target to ensure the UK gets to net zero by 2050.  Central to this plan is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This would make the UK emissions reductions the fastest rate of any major economy. 

“But what we must all do is hold our government to their rhetoric – because their pledges are ambitious and world-leading but they must now deliver the policies and the incentives to ensure that these significant greenhouse gas cuts are made.  We need 100% renewable electricity, we need all vehicles to be electric, we need to switch away from gas central heating, we need sustainable agriculture, we need to reforest and rewild the UK and we need a global transparent system of carbon offsets to help companies get to net zero as soon as possible. The UK Government will also need to employ global diplomacy over the next 12 months to encourage other major nations of the world to be equally ambitious.  Ultimately what we want is a competition between nations – who can get to net zero emissions first.”


Declared interests

Prof Reay: “is a member of the UK Government’s Green Jobs Taskforce.”

Prof Williamson: “no interests to declare.”

Dr Huntingford: “I have no interests to declare”

Prof Maslin: “no conflicts to declare”

Prof Forster: “no declared interests.”

No others received.

MIL OSI United Kingdom