LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Calling it “an ambitious target,” an English bishop has welcomed a UK panel’s call to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) was established as an independent body to advise the British government – as well as the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – by the Climate Change Act of 2008.
“Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change,” the committee said May 2.
The committee makes several recommendations, including a fully-electrified automobile fleet, setting thermostats more reasonably, eating less meat, and greater use of public transport.
Bishop John Arnold of Salford, the spokesman for the English and Welsh bishops’ conference on environmental issues, said the report “will be welcomed by the thousands of Catholics in this country who have responded to Pope Francis’s call for us to protect our common home.”
He said the document represents “a welcome recognition that as a country we must be a good ‘global’ neighbor and must think about the millions of our brothers and sisters around the world who already face danger and suffering, and the millions more who will increasingly be affected by climate change.”
The bishop said he was proud the Catholic community in the country has taken a leading role in showing what can be achieved.
“Thousands of our churches are running on renewable energy and schools and parishes in dioceses around the country have committed to living simply and sustainably,” Arnold said.
“We look forward to seeing the government embracing its role in delivering this agenda urgently and enthusiastically. Pope Francis has asked why any leader would want ‘to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so.’ Those who think that this is an issue which can be left for another day should ask themselves this question,” he said.
Arnold was one of 40 representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu communities who wrote an open letter that appeared in the Daily Telegraph May 3 supporting the climate report.
The signatories urge lawmakers to make the zero-emission target legally binding through the appropriate legislation; the current legally binding target is to ensure emissions are 80 percent lower by 2050 than they were in 1990.
“Such a target demands a cross-governmental approach and one which does not rely on offsets or outsourcing of carbon emissions to poorer nations – the very countries which are being hit hardest by climate change, despite having contributed least to the problem. We readily recognize this means changing our lifestyles and behaviors. Indeed, we welcome the benefits that will follow, including cleaner air and warmer homes,” the letter reads.
Greg Clark – the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – said the CCC report is a “seminal work and draws on the very latest climate science” and that the government “will study the recommendations very carefully.”
“In the years ahead the battle to halt catastrophic climate change will be won or will be lost. We intend to win,” Clark said.
“So in this crucial moment for our planet we should be united in our determination to tackle the climate emergency vigorously at home and show that leadership abroad,” he added.