We aren’t even keeping pace with the plan


1)  The UK’s net zero by 2050 legislation is based on 2018 scientific advice that we could keep burning fossil fuels until 2050 only if we made rapid cuts in emissions right away. But those cuts were not made, which means we must now reach net zero sooner to compensate.

Answer

The IPCC told the world in 2018 that we must not add more than another 420 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere for a greater than 66% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. That’s our global carbon budget, and each country must work to its share of that budget. The UK failed to cut emissions as advised in 2018, so we have burned through our carbon budget a lot more quickly than we should have. That means our carbon budget will no longer stretch until 2050, and so we must reach net zero sooner to avoid exceeding 1.5°C of warming. If we do not adjust our plans, other countries like China will use this as an excuse to avoid cutting emissions - particularly since the UK is supposed to be leading the world as host of the COP26 UN climate talks this November.