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Coffee House The Spectator Podcast

Is Theresa May’s climate change target realistic?

12 June 2019

9:20 AM

12 June 2019

9:20 AM

In a last-ditch effort to find a domestic legacy, Theresa May has set her sights on the hot topic of the day: climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions in Britain will be cut to zero by 2050, the PM has pledged. May’s promise is a response to the Extinction Rebellion protests that ground the capital to a halt back in April. It is also an answer to pig-tailed climate change activist Greta Thunberg who captured the imaginations of politicians from Michael Gove to Jeremy Corbyn earlier this year.

The pledge is certainly ambitious. In May, the Climate Change Committee said that with an awful lot of cash and political will, Britain can become net zero emitters of all greenhouse gases within 30 years. Today, Britain is the first big country to take it on board as Theresa May cements the target in law.

So is it a realistic target? This was the question debated on The Spectator‘s podcast on climate change, sponsored by Shell.

The good news is that, as the CCC’s chief executive Chris Stark tells Fraser Nelson on the podcast, individual lifestyle choices aren’t key to the target – so eating bacon is still OK.

But to meet the target, Brits will need to make some changes, from ditching gas boilers to building better-insulated homes (and preferably not on flood plains that could be the first to go with rising sea levels) and investing in technology that can suck and bury carbon. Oh, and the small matter of chucking one to two per cent of GDP at it, every year.

So is meeting the target really worth it? Tune in to find out.


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