UK sets ‘ambitious’ emissions target ahead of climate summit

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce Friday a new target that he says would reduce the U.K.’s greenhouse gas emissions “faster than any major economy.”

The target aims to cut the U.K.’s emissions by at least 68% from 1990 levels by 2030 and to set the country on the path to net zero by 2050. The goal is more ambitious than the one the European Union, which the U.K. left earlier this year, is expected to set next week.

The U.K.’s is co-hosting the Climate Ambition Summit with the United Nations and France on Dec. 12, which coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, a global pact aimed at averting catastrophic climate change.

Under the terms of the Paris accord, which the United States formally withdrew from last month but President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin, countries agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), ideally no more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century, compared with pre-industrial levels.

It was left up to each participating country to determine at what pace emissions would be reduced. The only binding requirement was that each country had to update the U.N. on its plans and progress.

The aim of the summit is to get countries to submit ambitious targets before the U.K. hosts the 26th global U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in 2021, a year later than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, we are taking the lead with an ambitious new target to reduce our emissions by 2030, faster than any major economy,” Johnson said.

“But this is a global effort, which is why the U.K. is urging world leaders as part of next week’s Climate Ambition Summit to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net zero targets,” he added.

The U.K.’s move was praised by Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think tank based in Nairobi, Kenya.

“This is the kind of leadership we want to see from the hosts of the crucial U.N. summit next year, and it will put pressure on other countries to follow suit,” he said.

“This welcome move by the U.K. ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement must now trigger a race to the top for a safer and cleaner world,” Adow added.

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Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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