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ClientEarth Communications

12th June 2019

Climate accountability

Real action now needed to back UK’s net zero goal

The UK government must now show leadership akin to the international space race to ensure real action backs new net zero laws addressing climate change, environmental lawyers said today.

Just like in 1962, when JFK made his famous declaration that the USA would reach the moon in the same decade, the UK must now start the real work and match its declaration with strong effort and action to avert climate breakdown.

ClientEarth has been working on improving the UK’s climate ambition for many years, advocating for a world-leading approach.

Today the Prime Minister Theresa May will seek to enshrine in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an amendment to the Climate Change Act.

UK needs world-leading net zero climate change target

Jonathan Church is a climate lawyer based in our London office. He says: “In 1962, President Kennedy spoke of urgency and destiny when declaring to the world the US’s intention to reach the moon within a decade. What makes that speech so momentous today, is that the US then backed those words with effort and action to realise their goal.

“With today’s net zero laws, all levels of government, business and society now have a legal framework and a declaration of ambition showing that the UK intends to lead the world on climate action.

“We now need that concerted effort to make this declaration a reality, answering those detractors who complain about the cost, just like the American administration did in ’69.”

Last month, we urged the government to embrace the ambition of the Committee on Climate Change’s net zero report, warning Whitehall not to carry forward surplus emissions.