Labour has pledged to cut emissions to “net zero” by 2050 with new targets to dramatically increase the amount of wind power generation and eliminate fuel poverty.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow secretary of state for business and energy, used her keynote speech at the Labour party conference today (25 September) to adopt the “net zero” target, which is widely seen as key to meeting the Paris climate change agreement to limit temperature rises.

Net zero means reducing emissions to as close to zero as possible while balancing remaining emissions by soaking carbon out of the atmosphere by planting trees for example.

Long-Bailey said: “The UK needs to do much more to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. So today I state firmly that a Labour government will back a target for net zero emissions by 2050.”

She said that Labour has been working with an expert team of energy professionals, engineers and academics to draw up an action plan to meet Labour’s existing goal to provide 60 per cent of UK energy demand from renewable or low-carbon sources within 12 years.

The report recommends a seven-fold increase the UK’s offshore wind power to 7,000 turbines and 52GW, which Long-Bailey said is enough to power 12 million homes.

It also recommends doubling the UK’s onshore wind power, and almost tripling solar power.

And the report proposes eliminating fuel poverty by making every single home energy efficient.

The government has asked the Committee on Climate Change to examine how to achieve a net zero target for the UK.

Responding to Labour’s announcement, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “Labour’s announcement is very much in line with the latest science, which shows that carbon emissions need to fall to net zero around mid-century in order to stand a decent chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets.

“The backing across parliament for UK action in line with the science seems as strong as it was a decade ago when it brought the Climate Change Act into existence.

“Moving to a net zero economy presents challenges, but evidence suggests it can be done and will bring social and economic benefits.”

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