"This country led the world in innovation during the Industrial Revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth.
"Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations."
Former Prime Minister
Net zero is a conservative mission
Net zero is a conservative mission to end our contribution to climate change and build a more prosperous and resilient economy.
The UK was the first major economy to enshrine net zero by 2050 in law because of the conservative environmental leadership.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced the legislation on 12 June 2019.
Her successor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, won an election later that year with a promise on the second page of the Conservative party’s manifesto to “reach net zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution”.
Johnson’s Government delivered the strategies and policy frameworks needed to reach the target, including the Net Zero Strategy, plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and a goal of quadrupling offshore wind capacity by 2030.
In 2021, the UK hosted the UN’s climate summit, COP26, where 197 countries negotiated and signed the Glasgow Climate Pact, with commitments to reaffirm the goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, phase down coal-fired power stations, and provide finance for developing countries to tackle climate change.
Today, net zero targets cover over 90 per cent of the world’s economy.
Our planet’s climate is changing. Greenhouse gases released by human activity are causing global temperatures to rise, leading to more intense and frequent weather events and rising sea levels.
In 1989, Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher became the world’s first world leader to draw attention to the “insidious danger” of climate change in a speech to the UN General Assembly.
She warned that “it is making and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways”.
As conservative environmentalists, we believe that man-made climate change threatens our prosperity and security, and that the UK must reach net zero emissions by 2050 through affordable, fair, and market-based policies, while strengthening our food and energy security.
The UK has decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions. Since the 1990s, we have reduced our emissions by 48 per cent while growing the economy by 78 per cent.
We believe that leading the world in developing the technologies needed to reach net zero is the best route to economic growth in the 21st century.
Through ambitious, market-led policies, the UK can attract private investment into the industries needed to reduce emissions and level up every region and nation.
Leading the green industrial revolution by building carbon capture and storage plants, attracting electric car manufacturers and deploying offshore wind around our coastline offers an economic renaissance for the UK’s industrial heartlands.
Improving energy efficiency and ending our reliance on volatile fossil fuel markets by building cheap, clean wind and solar power can lower household and business energy bills.
Inaction isn’t an option for our environment or our economy. Climate change threatens our future prosperity, causing food and water insecurity, economic damage from flooding and rising sea levels, and repercussions for global stability.
The Conservative Environment Network is campaigning to accelerate the UK’s efforts to reach net zero with policies to cut emissions, drive green growth, and attract investment into new industries in every part of the UK.
Our campaigns have successfully secured a temporary VAT exemption for insulation, heat pumps and solar panels, an end to the ban on onshore wind in England, and more investment in energy efficiency upgrades for fuel poor homes.