Climate crisis: Top scientists urge PM to have 'courage' to slash net zero date by 20 years

·2-min read

A group of top environmental scientists have urged Boris Johnson to have the courage to bring forward the UK's carbon net zero target to 2030.

In 2019, the government pledged the UK would cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

However, in an open letter Scientists Warning Europe (SWE) has urged the prime minister to show much stronger leadership ahead of it hosting COP26.

The letter is supported by 20 eminent scientists and academics including the government's ex science adviser Sir David King and leading Dutch climate scientist Pier Vellinga.

Ed Gemmell, SWE managing director, said: "We know from the scientific community that we need the earliest target possible for the UK and the world to get to net zero to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Many feel this should be 2030.

"Our current politicians are the last ones with the chance to take the necessary actions required by the British public, 81% of whom believe there is a real climate emergency according to the UNDP.

"We believe Boris Johnson has the courage to bring forward the net zero target and then initiate the emergency action needed to reach it."

Prof Vellinga, added: "In limiting climate change the world is finally taking action, but we are late; Boris Johnson can lead the world by catching up.

"All generations after him will be grateful when he does in the lead to Glasgow COP26."

Professor Mark Baldwin, of the University of Exeter, said countries must "stop the tax breaks, incentives, and subsidies for fossil fuels".

"Redirect that support to the green energy industry - wind, solar, and the infrastructure needed for electric transport - to accelerate the transition to net zero," he said.

COP26 is the annual climate change forum attended by world leaders being held in Glasgow later this year, after it was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It will bring together representatives from nearly 200 countries to agree new climate ambitions.

Its success is critical if the objectives set out five years ago in the Paris Agreement are to be met to reduce global emissions.

Scientists Warning Europe aims to drive science-led action on the climate and biodiversity crisis.