Britain to become first G7 country with net zero emissions target

Volunteers take part in the Zero Plastiko Urdaibai ocean and coastal cleanup on Laida beach near Bermeo, Spain June 8, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Britain to become first G7 country with net zero emissions target

  • Households would also need to be weaned off natural gas heating and switch to low-carbon alternatives such as hydrogen or heat pumps

LONDON: Britain will toughen its climate targets and commit to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the government said late on Tuesday, becoming the first G7 nation to set such a goal.
The country currently aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. However, campaigners say this does not go far enough to meet pledges made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to try to limit a rise in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
“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.”
Legislation will be put before parliament on June 12 to amend the existing climate change act to incorporate the new target, the statement said.
Britain’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, last month said that the country should move to the new target, which would require more renewable electricity generation and could require the phasing out of new petrol and diesel cars by at least 2035.
Households would also need to be weaned off natural gas heating and switch to low-carbon alternatives such as hydrogen or heat pumps.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), welcomed the move.
“Some sectors will need clear pathways to enable investment in low-carbon technologies, and it is vital that there is cross-government coordination on the policies and regulation needed to deliver a clean future,” she said.
Britain hopes its decision will encourage other countries to adopt more ambitious climate targets and said that a further assessment will take place within five years to confirm whether other countries are taking similar action.
It also said it would retain its ability to use international carbon credits to help to meet the target.
“Using international credits within an appropriate monitoring, reporting and verification framework is the right thing to do for the planet, allowing the UK to maximize the value of each pound spent on climate change mitigation,” the government statement said.


‘Fewer but newer’ nuclear arms in the world: report

Updated 2 min 30 sec ago
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‘Fewer but newer’ nuclear arms in the world: report

STOCKHOLM: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernizing their arsenals, a report published Monday said.
At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.
But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernizing these arms — and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.
“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.
The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it.”
Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.
The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.


While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
There is also a more general trend toward an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.
“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalized,” Kile said.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.
Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.