The world must head towards net zero by 2050 if the goal of keeping the global temperature below 1.5 ° C is to be achieved, the UK host of this year’s climate talks said.
Alok Sharma, chairman of the UN Cop26 climate summit, said that for the talks in Glasgow in November to be considered a success, governments must urgently set their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, including the announcement of the end of the new coal. power plants and commitments to eliminate existing ones. Sharma is also urging countries to end the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles.
The UK’s role as host will be central to the talks, seen as one of the last opportunities to move towards meeting the goals of the Paris agreement and limiting temperature increases to well below 2 ° C above the average. pre-industrial levels, with the aspiration to remain. below 1.5C. Current commitments would lead to a rise of more than 3 ° C, which scientists say would be catastrophic.
Writing in The Guardian, Sharma set the UK’s goals as host for the first time. He wrote: “I want to put the world on a path to net zero by mid-century, which is essential to keep 1.5 ° C within reach. Today’s global targets for 2030 are not close enough to meet the temperature target of the Paris agreement. The UK is therefore using the COP26 presidency to urge all countries to set emission reduction targets for 2030 that will put us on the path to net zero. “
The four UK goals for Cop26 are:
For countries to set net zero emissions targets, which governments have already made responsible for two-thirds of global emissions, and to set emission reduction targets for 2030.
Formulate plans for countries to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Encourage rich countries to provide finance to the poor world for emission cuts and adaptation.
Let civil society take a strong role in the talks.
Along with those key goals, Sharma is urging some specific policies. “During this year we want countries to make ambitious commitments to end the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles,” he wrote. “And we want significant new commitments to end new coal power and phase out existing plants … Coal is a relic of a bygone era, and this year we need a final push to put it where it belongs in the past.” .
He also called on countries to ensure an ecological recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, rather than investing money in fossil fuels and high-carbon infrastructure, as most have done so far. “We need a green thread that runs on all Covid-19 recovery packages,” he said.
Boris Johnson urged all countries that had not yet done so to make the key commitment to a goal of net zero. “Since the UK took over the presidency of the Cop, net zero commitments have grown from around a quarter of the world economy to 70%,” the prime minister said. “That is promising, but we need more countries to take over.”
Sharma pointed to the UK’s policies on phasing out cars and coal as examples for other countries to follow. However, the UK has faced harsh criticism in recent weeks for decisions that environmental experts say will have a negative impact on the climate and could damage the government’s position as host of the talks.
The green light for a new coal mine in Cumbria will now be subject to review after weeks of disputes. The government expects the review to clear the row and has previously insisted the mine is unrelated to Cop26 because the coal would be used for steelmaking rather than power generation. But activists were infuriated by the government’s hesitancy and the appearance of support for coal.
Rachel Kennerley, Friends of the Earth climate activist, said: “All countries must act to stop climate collapse, but it is hypocritical to demand more and more action from countries that did the least to cause climate change when the UK is so far from doing their fair share. Political and financial support for coal, oil and gas must stop at home and internationally before the UK can congratulate itself on being a climate leader. “
Sharma will also face sensitive questions from developing countries on finance. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in December that finance would play a key role in the talks, and developing countries were concerned that a key goal was not being met: that poor countries would receive $ 100 billion a year. year in climate finance.
The UK has pledged £ 11.6 billion over the next five years, and Sharma wrote that it was “pushing others to follow our example”. However, that task will be hampered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%. Although spending on climate finance is limited, the budget cut will affect many closely related aid programs.
David Cameron, the former prime minister, said last month that cutting aid would damage the UK’s ability to influence countries through “soft power.” He said: “It is both a tragedy and a mistake … our aid budget was a key element. [of soft power]. “
The government has also faced questions about its own commitment to ecological recovery and the lack of a detailed plan to meet net zero emissions. Its flagship Green Recovery program was the Green Homes Grant to subsidize home insulation and low carbon heating with more than £ 1.5 billion of public money. After a troubled start, most of that money remains unspent and will now be withdrawn rather than carried over to the next year. The companies said the ministers had “pulled the rug” from the plan.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism