It has been hard to avoid news of COP26 over the past few weeks as leaders from all over the world have congregated in Glasgow for this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference.
The Summit, presided over by Alok Sharma MP, brings together country representatives and experts to work on accelerating action to stop global warming. They will be agreeing how to achieve the goal set at COP21 in Paris to limit global warming at 1.5 degrees, a goal that all countries agreed to. This requires each country to create a plan for reducing emissions known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’. Now, the countries are to return with an updated plan.
What does Boris want from COP?
The UK Government has set four key goals for the Summit: cars, coal, trees, and cash. In other words, we want to see each country set 2030 emissions reduction targets that will: end the use of coal power; accelerate the move to clean electric vehicles; end deforestation; and finance the green transition and help the most vulnerable countries.
It was been identified that much work needs to be done by the end of the decade if we are to achieve the goal of net zero by 2050, meaning these targets are very significant.
The UK is already setting an example to other countries, showing that economic growth can come hand in hand with decarbonisation. In fact, we have decarbonised our economy faster than any other country in the G20 since 2000, and we were the first major economy to put into law that we will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Ultimately, to achieve net zero emissions globally will require work from everyone. There has been quite a focus on climate justice- both recognising that poorer countries may be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and supporting these countries to work towards decarbonisation, and to this effect, the Prime Minister has announced a £3 billion funding package to support the rollout of revolutionary green technology in developing countries– helping the world’s most vulnerable to mitigate the effects of climate change. It is hoped that this commitment will lead the way in encouraging other larger economies to take necessary responsibility for making this goal a reality.
Furthermore, there were concerns that some countries were reluctant to engage in this process and hesitant to commit to the work required to achieve net zero. Some of these countries, such as China, are also major contributors to global warming. It is therefore promising that, thus far, the likes of China, Russia and Brazil have offered some pledges and partaken in some agreements. Again, we cannot achieve the ultimate goal without work from every country, so, while imperfect, the movements from these countries are being cautiously welcomed.
It is no secret that achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a tremendous challenge, and in reality, one that the world is not currently on track to meet. Though, COP26 is an opportunity to make real plans and commitments to change that. It has been positive to see many countries stepping up to the plate, we now need to see the rest doing their bit. I congratulate those involved for their work so far and wish them good luck with the rest of the Summit.
On a similar note, the Environment Bill returns to the Commons for further consideration of the Lords’ amendments this week. This is a Bill intended to help us capitalise on our new freedom from the EU, to make our own ambitious laws and targets around climate change and the environment and to establish a new Office for Environmental Protection amongst other things. You can find my response to the previous Lords Amendment 45 here: Comment on Lords Amendment 45 (Environment Bill - Sewage) | Anne Marie Morris. I look forward to continuing to play my part in getting this important legislation right.
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