The UK government announced the launch of a new climate target today, aiming to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels. The new ambition paves the path between the country’s current interim and long-term climate goals, ultimately aiming to reach net zero by 2050.

The announcement was made with the release of the country’s sixth Carbon Budget, which limits the volume of greenhouse gases emitted over a 5-year period from 2033 to 2037. The budget is expected to be enshrined into law by the end of June.

Commenting on the new targets, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“We want to continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change, and that’s why we’re setting the most ambitious target to cut emissions in the world.

“The UK will be home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to net zero emissions, laying the foundations for decades of economic growth in a way that creates thousands of jobs.”

The UK has significantly ramped its climate ambitions over recent months, including setting one of the most ambitious interim goals in December 2020 to reach a 68% emissions reduction by 2030. To facilitate the realization of its goals, PM Johnson launched his 10-point plan for the UK’s “Green Industrial Revolution,” involving tens of billions of pounds of investments in areas including renewable energy, clean mobility and green building initiatives. The PM has also announced that the UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“This latest target shows the world that the UK is serious about protecting the health of our planet, while also seizing the new economic opportunities it will bring and capitalising on green technologies – yet another step as we build back greener from the pandemic we lead the world towards a cleaner, more prosperous future for this generation and those to come.”

The UK’s new goals come shortly before the US is set to announce its own interim climate commitments. President Biden has made addressing climate change a key focus for his administration, including returning the US to the Paris Agreement immediately upon taking office, re-committing the country to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Last month, the President invited 40 world leaders, including Johnson, to the Leaders Summit on Climate that he will host on April 22 and 23, and committed to announce the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) outlining its interim climate goals, prior to the conference.

The UK target was announced ahead of the upcoming conference, and as the country prepares to host UN Climate Summit, COP26. PM Johnson has stated he will urge countries to raise their ambitions on tackling climate change and join the UK in setting stretching targets for reducing emissions.

Johnson said:

“We want to see world leaders follow our lead and match our ambition in the run up to the crucial climate summit COP26, as we will only build back greener and protect our planet if we come together to take action.”

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma, added:

“This hugely positive step forward for the UK sets a gold standard for ambitious Paris-aligned action that I urge others to keep pace with ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year. We must collectively keep 1.5 degrees of warming in reach and the next decade is the most critical period for us to change the perilous course we are currently on.”

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