Pressure on UK as Cop26 approaches
Activists and climate experts have been increasingly concerned about a series of government actions that appear to be out of step with the government’s commitment to net zero emissions, ahead of hosting the vital UN climate talks, called Cop26, this November in Glasgow. As host and chair of the talks, the UK will have to unite the disputed nations to agree to slash emissions over the next ten years and achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.
Rebecca Newsom, Head of Policy at Greenpeace UK, said the government should reject the airport expansion to show leadership at Cop26: “If true, stopping the plans is a sign that the government is starting to measure the catastrophic impacts of this proposed expansion. But we’re only months away from hosting critical global climate talks, and this devastating climate megaproject is clearly inconsistent with our plans to cut emissions, so why just delay the decision and not just call it now? Canceling expansion plans before the global climate summit begins would be a true demonstration of climate leadership. “
Environmental groups received assurances from public officials in 2019 that decisions on new infrastructure that could increase greenhouse gas emissions would take into account the government’s goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. However, the supreme court ruled Last December that government commitments under the 2015 Paris agreement could be effectively ignored in the decision to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow.
A group of more than 130 leading scientists, academics and lawyers, including former NASA scientist James Hansen and former UK chief scientist Sir David King, wrote to the government last week expressing concern over the Court’s ruling. Supreme and warning that the government’s international climate commitments were being ignored. They wrote: “The UK’s highest court has set a precedent that large national projects can continue even when they are not consistent with maintaining the temperature limit on which our collective survival depends. In fact, the precedent goes further. He says the government is not even obliged to consider the goals of a deal that is almost universally agreed upon. That doesn’t just undermine the UK’s status as champion of the Paris agreement just before Cop26. It also substantially reduces humanity’s prospects of maintaining that limit and thus avoiding disaster. “
Other recent controversial decisions, such as the government’s initial backing for the Cumbria coal mine and a new round of licenses granted to extract oil and gas from the North Sea, have also raised concerns. The government has scrapped its main green recovery measure, the Green Housing Grant, which was intended to create thousands of green jobs by helping households install insulation and slashing incentives to buy electric cars.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism