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UK launches review on net zero emissions target

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UK launches review on net zero emissions target

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Treasury seeking to maximize growth opportunities from transition

UK government to explore levers, including tax, to meet targets

London — The UK government has launched a review on how to reach its net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050.

The review, launched November 2, is seen as a key part in charting the UK's roadmap to end its contribution to climate change.

"The Net Zero Review, the first of its kind, will assess how the UK can maximise economic growth opportunities from its transformation to a green economy," the government said in a statement.

UK finance minister Sajid Javid said the country would seek ways to cut emissions cost effectively, after becoming the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.

"This review is a vital next step in delivering that commitment, ensuring that we can end our contribution to global warming, while supporting growth and balancing costs, to avoid placing unfair burdens on families or businesses," he said.

A final report will be published in autumn 2020, ahead of the UK hosting the COP26 United Nations climate conference in Glasgow in November that year.

The Treasury-led review will consider how the transition to net zero will be funded and assess the most cost-effective options.

This will include analyzing the range of choices for how households, businesses and taxpayers could contribute toward different elements of the transition to net zero; identifying mechanisms to create an equitable balance of contributions; maximizing opportunities for economic growth in the transition to a green economy; and evaluating the trade-offs between cost, competitiveness, effects on consumers and impacts on taxpayers.

The scope of the review will consider the full range of government levers, including tax, the government said, but will not duplicate existing or ongoing work elsewhere, such as detailed policy to decarbonize specific sectors, the costs of adapting to the impacts of climate change or the social and global co-benefits of decarbonization.

The review will complement existing government efforts to tackle climate change, including quadrupling the UK's renewable energy capacity since 2010; installing 2.5 million energy efficiency measures in two million homes; investing GBP4.5 billion ($5.8 billion) to support renewable and low-carbon heating; investing GBP1.5 billion to support uptake of electric vehicles; and pledging GBP315 million in the 2018 budget to support businesses with high energy use.

ACTION NEEDED

UK energy company Anesco welcomed the government's review on net zero.

"However, without a clear strategy and importantly accountability, we will not meet the original clean growth targets -- let alone net zero," the company warned in a statement Monday.

"In the last year, we have only seen around a 2.5% increase in renewables and the reality is we are not doing enough," it said.

"The removal of fossil fuels from heat and transport systems will see electricity demands increasing significantly. Even greater levels of renewable generation will be needed, along with the electricity infrastructure to support them. At the present rate of growth, it's simply not going to happen," Anesco said.

On June 27, the UK became the first major economy in the world to legislate to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.

The UK's independent committee on climate change said in May the foundations for a net zero economy are already in place, including low-carbon electricity; efficient buildings and low-carbon heating; electric vehicles; carbon capture and storage; diversion of biodegradable waste from landfill; increased afforestation; and measures to reduce emissions from agriculture.

However, the committee said all these measures would need to be strengthened and must deliver action, for the UK to achieve the 2050 target.

-- Frank Watson, frank.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, newsdesk@spglobal.com