The UK will end its contribution to global warming within 30 years if it sets a new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, says the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015 to curb emissions.
According to MPs, Scotland has a greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall and could adopt a more ambitious target of 2045.
Wales has a slightly lower opportunity and should adopt a target of a 95% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
This is 20 years later than the demands of the Extinction Rebellion protests which want to see net-zero targets set for 2030.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC) warned in a report last year that there should be a rise of no more than 1.5°C of the global average temperature to avoid climate catastrophe.
The CCC said the foundations were already in place for the UK to reach net-zero by 2050.
These include stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, supply of low-carbon electricity and developing carbon capture and storage technology.
Yet it said government must urgently set up clear and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy.
Targets can be met by an annual cost of up to 1-2% of GDP to 2050, the report claimed.
Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said: “The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part, but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted. The government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”
David Palmer Jones, CEO Of SUEZ UK, said the net-zero report reiterated the importance of moving towards a circular economy.
He said: “Through a more effective, consistent, collection process, less waste will be released to the environment, enabling easier control of land damage and marine pollution, and ultimately helping keep a lid on carbon emissions.”
Palmer-Jones also used the report to highlight the growing focus on extended producer responsibility (EPR).
He added: “Manufacturers will play their part in helping us achieve these new targets, while new producer-responsibility laws will inspire technological advancements, create new markets, investment and employment, whilst halting the drain on our dwindling natural resources.”
The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) also welcomed the target.
Charlotte Morton, chief executive of ADBA, said: “By converting organic waste and crops into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel and soil-restoring natural fertiliser, AD has already reduced the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1% and has the potential to reduce them by as much as 5%.”