United Kingdom

Boris Johnson's green dream: He wants UK emissions cuts to be fastest in the world

Boris Johnson has announced a more ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, despite warnings that it will be a ‘colossal challenge’.

The Prime Minister wants the UK to lead the charge ahead of hosting next year’s climate talks.

He hopes Britain will cut emissions faster than any other major economy and has beefed up a previous target.

Boris Johnson (pictured on Tuesday) has announced a more ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, despite warnings that it will be a ‘colossal challenge’

Instead of reducing emissions by 61 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030, Mr Johnson wants them cut by at least 68 per cent. 

He aims to put environmental issues at the heart of Britain’s economy after the Brexit ‘transition’ phase ends this month.

It will also allow the PM to find common ground with US president-elect Joe Biden, who has promised to take a leading role on climate issues.

Carbon cost of streaming shows in HD 

Television shows streamed in high definition can increase your carbon footprint, scientists have warned.

Streaming an hour-long programme in ultra-high definition on a smartphone generates eight times more emissions than watching it in standard definition.

The experts from the Royal Society also said high definition is not needed by those who only listen to content without watching. 

And they have called on platforms to adapt its streaming options.

Watching in high quality increases emissions as it needs more power from providers, producing more carbon.

The report said: ‘Responsible streaming would be supported by changes in online services design, such as turning off the video for YouTube users who are only listening. 

'A study showed this could save between 1 per cent and 5 per cent of the service’s total emissions.’

The new target is significantly higher than that of the EU, which has a goal of hitting 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030, although it is expected to increase its target.

Last month, Mr Johnson unveiled a green plan to phase out petrol and diesel cars, increase ‘low-carbon’ central heating, boost offshore wind power and extend hydrogen technology.

Reports yesterday suggested that he wants to replace gas boilers with more efficient and environmentally friendly heat pumps and biomass boilers. 

Setting out the new target, Mr Johnson said: ‘We have proven we can reduce our emissions and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process – uniting businesses, academics, non-governmental organisations and local communities in a common goal to go further and faster to tackle climate change.

‘Today, we are taking the lead with an ambitious new target to reduce our emissions by 2030, faster than any major economy, with our ten point plan helping us on our path to reach it.

‘But this is a global effort, which is why the UK is urging world leaders as part of next week’s [United Nations] Climate Ambition Summit to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net zero targets.’

The UK will host the UN Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow next November and will seek to capitalise on new freedoms after leaving the EU.

The Government’s announcement comes in the wake of UN reports saying that 2020 was on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, driving weather extremes, rising sea levels and wildfires.

Britain has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent since 1990, meaning that the rate of ‘decarbonisation’ will have to increase by half over the next decade to meet the new target.

The National Audit Office has warned that meeting the UK’s legal target to cut emissions to net zero by 2050 to curb climate change is a ‘colossal challenge’.

The spending watchdog said this was significantly more difficult than previous targets, which the UK is not on track to meet. 

Instead of reducing emissions by 61 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030, Mr Johnson wants them cut by at least 68 per cent (stock image)

Britain has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent since 1990. Pictured: Solar panels at Kencot solar farm in Lechlade

Under the Paris climate change agreement, countries have committed to keep global warming ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels.

They have vowed to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C, which is seen as the threshold beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt.

To meet this target, the world’s carbon emissions must fall to net zero by 2050. 

This can only be achieved with major cuts in pollution and any remaining emissions offset by planting trees or using technology to ‘capture carbon’.

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