'Theresa May will legally commit to ending the UK’s contribution to global warming by 2050 before she leaves No 10, but there are fears of a “get-out clause” that could allow her successor to roll back on the measures. Critics have also highlighted the lack of a detailed action plan.
The prime minister will announce legislation to set a path to “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century, as recommended by her climate change advisers.
But there are concerns the move – an attempt to create a “legacy” achievement for a PM forced out of office for her Brexit failure – will fail to bind her successor to detailed action to help curb runaway climate change.
Friends of the Earth warned of “cynical gesture politics” if the legal commitment was not backed with real teeth in terms of policy and money.
Ms May is also under pressure from her chancellor to agree an “explicit review point”, allowing the next government to rethink the 2050 commitment if other countries fail to follow suit.
In a leaked letter, Philip Hammond claimed the plan put forward by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – including an end to petrol and diesel cars and gas boilers and a huge shift to green energy, as well as drastic cuts in meat-eating – would cost more than £1 trillion.
He was immediately accused by green groups and opposition politicians of trying to block effective action by “putting ideology before our wellbeing”.
It appeared unlikely the legislation would have an action plan attached, as it can be achieved by simply changing the 2008 Climate Change Act through a new regulation.
The bid to make the UK a world leader on climate change comes after a poll for The Independent found overwhelming support, with 59 per cent of voters in favour of the net zero pledge and only 8 per cent against.
It could be introduced as early as next week – as Conservative MPs stage the first votes to find Ms May’s successor, with the winner due to move into Downing Street in late July.
A government source told The Independent the move was expected to have “broad parliamentary support”, with only a few Tory mavericks likely to voice opposition.'
Read more: Theresa May will legally commit to ending Britain’s global warming contribution by 2050 – without caveats