Following on from the IPCC report conclusions which found that global temperature increases are likely to exceed the 1.5C agreed in the Paris Agreement, Boris Johnson has promised action on the UK’s priorities for COP26, promising pledges and plans to secure international commitments on coal, cars cash and trees.

The Prime Minister has asserted his aim to get all countries to follow the UK’s lead and commit to net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century insisting that all commitments should be backed with specific plans to cut emissions… well-before this deadline.

Boris has pushed for the G20 nations to lead the way following their meeting in Cornwall last month.

The G20 Nations are responsible for more than 75% of global emissions annually and only thirteen met the target for updating their Paris Agreement commitments ahead of COP26. More disappointingly, only eight presented more ambitious plans than their original pledges.

The Prime Minister has detailed his “extremely bold” commitments in four specific areas outlining his expectations from all nations:

  • Coal – the developed world to kick the coal habit entirely by 2030 and the developing world by 2040.
  • Cars – the world to follow the UK lead and abandon fossil fuel internal combustion engine machines.
  • Cash – the richest nations, which have historically produced so much of the world’s carbon, to recommit to supporting the rest of the planet to go green with funds of $100bn a year.
  • Trees – to commit to restoring nature and habitat and ending the massacre of the forests, because trees are among our best natural defences against climate change. To be net-zero for carbon you must be net-positive for trees and by 2030.

According to Mr Johnson, the goals are hugely ambitious and will require a massive amount of global diplomacy and imagination but that nations must be ambitious no matter how difficult it looks now. The IPCC report was very clear that the time to make the changes required to secure health, prosperity and growth, and the best chance to safeguard the natural world for future generations.

The Government has emphasised the potential economic benefits of the net-zero transition, amid concerns about the cost of measures designed to reduce emissions through forthcoming policies including the Heat & Buildings Strategy. The costs of new green technology are falling and hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled, high-wage jobs will be created in this sector for decades to come. The UK has the technology and finance to make a big economic success of this agenda, but it is recognised that time is running out if we are to make a significant difference to the damage being caused to our planet.

With COP 26 only a matter of weeks away, whether the UK can drive such commitments from all nations remains to be seen. We need actions now, not words, to address the energy crisis.

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