In preparation for the Copenhagen climate conference in December, the U.K. government today announced a series of carbon emissions goals for nations to hit by 2050.

Speaking from the interesting choice of the London Zoo, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that there were two targets nations must agree on. The first is to ensure global emissions peak by 2020 and are cut by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The second is that developed countries must agree to reduce their emissions by 80 percent to allow developing countries room for growth.

You can bet that 80 percent number is going to be a heavy sticking point for countries like China and the United States. Still, Gordon said, we must aggressively pursue these goals so that future generations do not bear the burden of our failure. From his announcement (transcript available here):

“An ambitious agreement in Copenhagen is certainly achievable. And yet it remains far from certain. We cannot allow this to drift - when every year of delay retards investment, locks us into a higher emissions pathway, worsens the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable, and increases the costs of eventual reduction. Copenhagen is twenty-three weeks away. When historians look back on this critical moment, let them say, not that we were the generation that failed our children; but that we had the courage, and the will, to succeed.”

For their part, the U.K. has pledged to assist developing nations with financial aid in climate change mitigation. They also seek to encourage other nations "to work together on a global figure of around $100 billion per year by 2020."

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

UK outlines road to Copenhagen
Says world leaders must agree to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050.