Climate experts have welcomed the UK’s new target to cut emissions to “net zero” by 2050 as a “crucial first step” in combating global warming.

The new goal is one of the most ambitious set by a major polluting nation and Britain is the first major economy to make the pledge.

But while Tuesday’s announcement was described as a “big moment” for the climate, experts and activists warn that it still was not enough.

Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist Doug Parr raised concerns that the plan allows carbon credits, meaning emissions will be offset elsewhere.

And activist group Extinction Rebellion gave an even more damning verdict, branding the new goal post as a “death sentence”.

“People are already dying and this will only get worse with far off dates,” the group said of the new middle-of-the-century target.

Hitting “net zero” – a 100 per cent cut in emissions – will mean a major shift away from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles, walking and cycling.

The move will also mean an end to the heating of homes with traditional gas boilers and a drive towards greener energy.

The new target – which will be legally binding – means the UK must cut emissions to as close to zero as possible by 2050 and use methods to take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere to “offset” the remaining pollution such as planting trees which absorb carbon dioxide.

Read more: Standard