Allegra Stratton is the spokesperson for the British Prime Minister’s office, number 10 Downing Street. She stated that the UK target of zero emissions by 2050 was too far away. She stated that the science is clear and we need to be making changes now.
It is true that we have intermediate targets. We aim to reduce carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 and by 78% by 2035.
So how are we doing? Well 2020 emissions were 51% below 1990 levels, though this is a strange year to measure it to – the epidemic means that 2020 is 11% below 2019, the drop was not long-term. Indeed, measuring fall in emissions to 2020 is suspicious – in fact it is so obvious, that other countries would be likely to call it out (were it not for the fact that they are doing the same thing).
What is the urgency? In past conferences, they have agreed that while keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees is also essential, the sea level rise and weather changes at this level are too expensive. As such the target of 1.5 which was seen as more challenging should still be where we are aiming. If the majority of countries around the world hit their net zero targets, 1.5 degree warming would still be possible. It should be noted, that much of this warming has occurred, which is why such rapid and extreme cuts are now required. Given the fact that even by 2050 there will still be some industries emitting carbon dioxide, we also need to develop more affordable carbon capture and ways to lock the carbon away for Millenia. It is far more expensive to emit carbon and then capture it, but some capture is likely to be essential.
There have been no big new governmental announcements of ways to further or faster cut carbon in the last 2 months. That is not to say that they haven’t said a great deal about it over the last year, merely that this new statement does not appear to signal a ratcheting up of the work in question.