Skip to Content
Climate change and energy

We must cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, says UK climate committee

A coal fired power plant
A coal fired power plantAssociated Press

A new report says that the “net zero” target can be met in 30 years with existing technologies.

The previous target: In 2008 the UK committed to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 80% by 2050 as part of the Climate Change Act. This new, more ambitious target can be met at no added cost over previous estimates and should be passed into law as soon as possible, according to the Committee on Climate Change, which produced the report.

What’s changed? There has been a significant drop in the cost of renewable energy, partly thanks to government subsidies. There’s also growing public awareness of the issue and acceptance that major changes may be needed, the report’s author, Chris Stark, said.

Is it feasible? The committee admits the target is ambitious, but it outlines the practical steps needed to slash emissions to zero. These include government and industry actions like adopting lower-carbon power generation, plus carbon capture and storage technologies. The report also calls for better home insulation, a switch to electric vehicles, and major reforestation programs. As for individual actions, it suggests that people reduce meat consumption and turn their home thermostats down to 19 °C.

A call to arms: The committee says that this is a “crucial time in the global effort to tackle climate change.” The impact of global warming, which has already risen by 1 °C above preindustrial levels, is becoming increasingly clear. If we’re to avoid catastrophic changes, we must avoid going above 1.5 °C, the report adds. If other countries agree to adopt this target, there’s a chance of staying below this level.

Sign up here to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech in our daily newsletter The Download.

Deep Dive

Climate change and energy

How a half-trillion dollars is transforming climate technology

Checking in with the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, one year later.

Zinc batteries that offer an alternative to lithium just got a big boost

The US Department of Energy just committed a $400 million loan to battery maker Eos.

How electricity could clean up transportation, steel, and even fertilizer

More industries are joining the charge to electrify everything in order to cut emissions.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.