OPINION: Even the UK government’s most ardent critics on climate would accept that this week’s announcement of plans to accelerate cuts to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions — by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels — is a welcome, though very demanding, target.

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The bold new timetable is 15 years ahead of the previous target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and it is clear that a great deal of work will be needed to turn lofty goals into deliverable reality.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK wants to “raise the bar on tackling climate change” and called the targets the “most ambitious to cut emissions in the world”.

For the first time also, the UK will include its share of international shipping and aviation in the targets.

The new targets will maintain the pressure being felt by the North Sea oil and gas industry.

The recent North Sea Transition Deal saw the sector commit to halving operational greenhouse gas emissions from North Sea platforms in the next decade before achieving a 90% reduction by 2040.

The industry rightly notes it is “already in action” to produce the oil and gas the country needs with fewer emissions, while putting its skills to work to help other sectors reduce their footprint through the development of carbon capture and hydrogen.

While the new national targets are in line with those set out in the North Sea Transition Deal, they will surely reinforce the urgency with which the sector must get to work.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)