UK Net Zero Emissions Target Will ‘Cost More Than £1 Trillion’

  • Date: 05/06/19
  • Financial Times

Britain’s chancellor Philip Hammond has warned Theresa May that her plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 will cost the UK over £1tn.

In a letter to the prime minister seen by the Financial Times, the chancellor said the cost meant that less money would be available for schools, police, hospitals and other areas of public spending. He also warned that the target would render some industries “economically uncompetitive” without huge government subsidies.

Mrs May, whose tenure as prime minister will end next month, is hoping the carbon emissions legislation will be one of her most important legacies after she leaves office.

The 2050 net zero target — one of the most ambitious in the world — was recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisory body. “Net zero” means that any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology.

Mr Hammond warned in his letter — sent last week — about the implications of going ahead with the new target, which is much tighter than the UK’s current policy of cutting emissions by 80 per cent over the same period.

The CCC has estimated that reaching net zero will cost £50bn a year, but the department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy puts the figure at £70bn, according to the chancellor’s letter. “On the basis of these estimates, the total cost of transitioning to a zero-carbon economy is likely to be well in excess of a trillion pounds,” he wrote.

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