By Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent Prominent business leaders claim setting a net-zero emissions target for 2050 would push companies into reducing their reliance on fossil fuels

Governments should set a clear target of making the world’s economy free from carbon emissions by mid-century, Sir Richard Branson and a group of other prominent businesspeople have urged.

The goal – of eliminating the net impact of greenhouse gases, by replacing fossil fuels and ensuring that any remaining emissions are balanced out by carbon-saving projects such as tree-planting and carbon capture and storage – is more stretching than any yet agreed by world governments. The G8 group of rich nations has pledged to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, and some developing countries to halving emissions by then.