Britain sets greenhouse gas standard for others to follow

Britain has become the first G7 country to set a legally binding target to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

The Prime Minister will today put before Parliament the statutory tools needed to amend the Climate Change Act 2008 with the more demanding target for the UK to “eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050.”

Committee On Climate Change May 2019The pledge is in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, which advises UK Government, in its report published at the beginning of May.

Clean building technology such as energy-efficient materials, biophilic design, more accurate monitoring of consumption by sensors and the rise of circular cradle-to-cradle construction methods are all part of fighting climate change that the built environment industry is adopting. But more must be done to help fight the climate crisis.

Alex Edds, UK director of innovation at JLL, welcomed the news: “Finally the UK government shows leadership on a vital global issue. The UK is incredibly well placed to lead on developing and delivering new low carbon solutions for the built environment, which plays a huge role in delivering on this ambition. This is a great opportunity for low carbon proptech and cleantech companies.”

Jon Lovell, director of Hillbreak, a consultancy that advises institutional property investors on responsible investment, commented: “This new target renews the UK’s role at the vanguard of global policy ambition and sends a really important signal to the market – across all sectors and asset classes – about the scale of the transition that companies and portfolios will need to align with in order to remain viable. It also brings political ambition more in line with much of the institutional investment community.

“Of course, having a target is one thing; bringing forward and implementing the comprehensive package of policy measures that will be needed to deliver Net Zero in reality is quite another. Action in this regard needs to be decisive, inclusive and effective.”

The UK will conduct a further assessment within five years to confirm that other countries are taking similarly ambitious action, multiplying the effect of the UK’s lead and ensuring that our industries do not face unfair competition.

Charles Woollam of Remit Consultants: “Technology is playing an increasing role in enabling smarter decision-making regarding energy and therefore reducing carbon emissions. However, we have to learn from the lessons following the 2008 Act, as, while new developments are designed heaving with sensors, older units need to be retrofitted. While the cost of this retrofitting is cheaper than 10 years ago, it is still an undertaking which will not appeal to the majority of investors and, as a result, efficiency is unlikely to improve. Without legislation to enforce sensors, older buildings will hold us back in the pursuit of the 2050 goal.”

CCC chairman, Lord Deben said: “Our report concluded that Net Zero is necessary, feasible and cost effective. This is a major commitment for the coming decades, but we have highlighted the significant benefits of action. This step will send a strong signal to other countries to follow suit – and will help to drive the global effort to tackle climate change required by the Paris Agreement.

“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. The government has not yet moved formally to include international aviation and shipping within the target, but they have acknowledged that these sectors must be part of the whole economy strategy for net zero. We will assist by providing further analysis of how emissions reductions can be delivered in these sectors through domestic and international frameworks.

“The Committee on Climate Change will now move to the task of providing advice on the detailed path to net zero. Our statutory advice to government on the UK’s Carbon Budgets to 2037 is due next year.”

Energy secretary, Greg Clark, said: “Low carbon technology and clean energy contribute £44.5bn to our economy every year. We are ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans through our world-leading Road to Zero Strategy, and protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainability through our 25 Year Environment Plan.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change. We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions.

“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. 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.

“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.

“Whilst it will be for future governments to determine the precise direction of future climate policy, the Committee on Climate Change acknowledge that we have laid strong foundations through our Clean Growth Strategy and taken action to tackle climate change across key sectors of the economy identified by the report.”

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