Church aid agencies comment on UK zero emissions target

Coal plant Neideraussem - image Greenpeace

Coal plant Neideraussem - image Greenpeace

Source: CAFOD/Christian Aid

The UK is to set a legally binding target to end its contribution to climate change by 2050, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced. CAFOD and Christian Aid have both welcomed the news - with reservations.

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, said: "This commitment is one of the most important any government could make. In the face of some dark clouds internationally, putting this target in law shows our government acting as a good global citizen."

But he said: "This must be undertaken honestly, transparently and without caveats - especially if the UK is seeking to show leadership credentials ahead of its bid to host the climate talks next year.

"We need everyone in government to get behind delivering on the target urgently and put in place the policies we need to turn the target from a goal to a reality."

Christian Aid's Global Climate Lead, Dr Alison Doig, said: "It's an historic day when the country that introduced carbon-based industrialisation to the world announces that it will no longer contribute to climate change. The world is facing a climate emergency and the only way we will solve it is by countries going net zero.

"But today's announcement does not go far enough. We urge Parliament to push the government towards a target of 2045 at the very latest. Christian Aid firmly believes 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.

"As well as a long term target we need to ensure that we move right away to a greener and fairer economic model. It's vital that we bring an end to the fossil fuel era, including oil and gas, while promoting energy efficiency, renewables and under-addressed emissions from transport and industry. We need real investment and cross-government action to make that a reality"

Dr Doig added: "Global emissions continue to rise. Currently we're trying to tackle a house fire by dousing it with petrol. Only when we stop pumping out greenhouse gas emissions can we start to bring the fire under control."

"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 carbon offsetting slows the rate of decarbonisation while allowing the UK to get the glory of making a commitment.. It is vital that the Government ensures real emissions reductions are made within the UK and not merely outsourced internationally through dodgy loopholes. Otherwise this target will end up as state-sponsored greenwashing."

CAFOD Christian Aid supporters will be taking part in the Time is Now mass lobby of Parliament which will see 10,000 people descending on Westminster to speak to their MP about the need for action on climate change on 26 June.

Tags: Environment, Climate, Zero Emissions, Greenhouse Gas, Pollution

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