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Wednesday 8 September 2021

Climate Emergency: 2050 Is Too Late for Net Zero

One of the last things Theresa May did before leaving office in 2019 was to commit the UK to a net zero carbon target by 2050. Other countries have made similar commitments. Weaning the entire global economy off carbon-based fuels on this sort of timescale sounds ambitious. Or is it not ambitious enough?

Activists argue that setting 2050 as the target date is a huge mistake. Doing so gives the false impression that action can be delayed, they say, and will only make governments and corporations complacent. But the bigger point is that even if we get to net zero by 2050 the damage caused by carbon emissions in the intervening years will be catastrophic and irreversible. The science on this, activists say, is clear. And the evidence is all around us – in wildfires, melting ice and rising temperatures. We must aim for a much earlier date. To aim for 2050 is to accept the unacceptable.

That’s the argument of the naive eco-activists, opponents say. Sure, there are things countries could do to lower emissions more quickly but that’s not the same as getting to zero – and focusing on reducing emissions in the short term will distract us from the bigger goal of getting us to zero. To achieve that we need a coherent plan that will include producing more clean energy, making more use of the technologies we already have and innovating to find clean ways to make steel and concrete. We also need to find ways to do all of this cheaply. It is crucial that we stick to this vision, proponents of 2050 say, and not get dangerously distracted by eco-fantasies that we can somehow magic up clean ways to manufacture steel, for example. Getting to net zero by 2050 is a colossal task. But we can achieve it and when we do it won’t be too late to save the planet.

So who’s right and who’s wrong? Join the debate on September 8 and have your say.

Event Name

Climate Emergency: 2050 Is Too Late for Net Zero


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Speakers for the motion
  • George Monbiot

    Guardian journalist, activist and polemicist

  • Lucy Yu

    CEO at The Centre for Net Zero

Against the motion
  • Bim Afolami

    Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden since 2017

Remaining speaker to be confirmed.

Chair tbc

Speakers subject to change.


Location
  • Barbican Hall
  • Barbican Centre
  • Silk Street
  • London
  • EC2Y 8DS
Time
  • Wednesday 8 September 2021
  • 7pm to 8:30pm BST



Speakers

For the motion

George Monbiot

Guardian journalist, activist and polemicist


Guardian journalist, activist and polemicist, whose bestselling books include Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain; The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and most recently Out of the Wreckage, which argues for a new politics based on scientific findings proving that humans are by nature supreme altruists and cooperators. He is author of the forthcoming book This Can't Be Happening, a call to action on climate change to be released in September 2021.

Lucy Yu

CEO at The Centre for Net Zero


CEO at The Centre for Net Zero, an open research lab working with governments, cities, investors and businesses around the world to achieve Net Zero quickly, fairly and affordably. She is a fellow at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change leading policy projects focused on the cleantech sector, decarbonisation, governance of health data. The Financial Times named her one of the most influential BAME Leaders in Tech.
Against the motion

Bim Afolami

Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden since 2017


Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden since 2017. He is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Renewable and Sustainable Energy, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Conservation and is member of both the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Climate Change and the Conservative Environment Network. In 2020 he authored the report Unlocking Britain: Recovery and renewal after COVID-19, looking at ways in which Britain’s economy can recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remaining speaker to be confirmed.

Chair tbc

Speakers subject to change.