One year ago, the UK became the first major economy to legally commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. In doing so, the UK continued its important role as a global leader in the fight against climate change. As we recover from the coronavirus crisis and prepare to host the UN climate summit in Glasgow next year, we must ensure that we rebuild a cleaner and more resilient economy.
A net zero society means that we do not release more carbon into the atmosphere than our land and seas absorb naturally - halting the dangerous rise in global temperatures. Failure to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 would mean that global warming would exceed the 1.5°C limit set by 189 countries in the Paris Agreement five years ago. This would lead to a planet that is far less hospitable to live on, with more frequent severe weather events such as droughts and floods, and virtually no intact coral reefs. We must do all we can to avoid this - for the wellbeing of future generations and ours.
Reaching net zero provides economic, health and social benefits too. The UK's G7 record since 1990 shows that it is possible to cut emissions while growing the economy. As we recover from Covid-19, we can create jobs across the UK in environmentally friendly industries like rewewable energy and electric cars. Economists have found that a green recovery could generate more jobs and higher returns than investing in carbon-intensive industries. Measures such as insulating British homes will cut energy bills and reduce winter illnesses too. Meanwhile, less air pollution means healthier lungs, and more trees and wildlife can create an abundance of green space for exercise and mental well-being.
In the last year, there have been many noteworthy achievements that we can be proud of. One of the most significant was that the UK was successful in its bid to host the next UN Climate Conference (COP26), which will now be in Glasgow next year. With our net zero target the UK can lead on this agenda, but we must ensure that we are on track to meet the target to be credible. We know there's still more to do.
The UK is a world leader in combating climate change. Today we should celebrate that leadership and welcome the exciting opportunities that a net zero world could bring. And by putting ourselves demonstrably on track to net zero, we will have a powerful example to promote when we welcome the nations of the world to our shores next year.
As a member of the Conservative Environment Network's Parliamentary Caucus, I am pleased that we are working hard to:
- Support new renewable energy projects
- Upgrade the energy efficiency of homes and public buildings
- Scale up investment in green infrastructure like EV charge points
- Issue a UK Government Green Bond to fund low-carbon investments
- Publish a hydrogen strategy to help decarbonise transport and industry
- Invest in nature conservation and restoration projects across the UK
- Decarbonise our economy while creating jobs and prosperity