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UK 2050 net zero target for greenhouse gases welcomed by bishops

By Cian Molloy - 06 May, 2019

The UK is set to become a net zero greenhouse emitter by 2050, a move that has been welcomed by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.

The UK’s new 2050 net zero target has been set by the UK’s All-Party Committee on Climate Change, which is confident that the target can be reached using existing technology, the existing budget and serious public engagement. However, it acknowledges this will require a major ramping up of ambition in policy.

According to the committee’s report, current pledges from countries across the world are predicted to lead to a 3°C average warming of global temperatures by the end of the century, which is substantially short of the United Nations’ goal, set in the 2016 Paris Agreement, to limit the rise to 1.5°C.

The English and Welsh lead bishop on climate change matters, Bishop John Arnold of Salford, said: “This is an ambitious target which will be welcomed by the thousands of Catholics in this country who have responded to Pope Francis’s call for us to protect our common home.

“In achieving this target, we must all play our part, and I’m proud that the Catholic community has taken a leading role in showing what can be achieved. Thousands of our churches are running on renewable energy, and schools and parishes in dioceses around the country have committed to living simply and sustainably.

“We look forward to seeing the Government embracing its role in delivering this agenda urgently and enthusiastically. Pope Francis has asked why any leader would want to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so. Those who think that this is an issue which can be left for another day should ask themselves this question.”

In Ireland, the Climate Change Advisory Council says this country is unable to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. Indeed, greenhouse gas emissions were only reduced here temporarily when the economy collapsed in 2009. The Advisory Council’s chairman, Prof John FitzGerald, commented last year: “The recession was the only policy which worked so far in making a real big change.”

Elsewhere, the moves by Britain have been welcomed. In Fiji, where tropical storms are becoming more frequent and more intense, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said: “For those of us suffering the consequences of climate change I welcome the international leadership shown by the Committee on Climate Change with these recommendations. With its historic emissions and size of its economy this is a hugely important global step by the UK and one I hope similar countries will replicate.”

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