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UK government must invigorate its post-COP26 effort on climate change

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The success or otherwise of last month’s COP26 climate conference can only be assured by actions that follow over the coming year and beyond. So concludes the Climate Change Committee (CCC) in its assessment of COP26 and the critical next steps for the UK.

There is now a path to expected global warming of under 2°C, but only if all the ambition in new mid-century net zero targets is delivered alongside national 2030 emissions targets, says the report. Current climate policies around the world do not come close to achieving these aims.

Following COP26, global temperatures are set to rise by around 2.7°C. The new Glasgow Climate Pact focuses on the 2020s as the critical period for accelerating climate action – just as well, as only concrete steps by 2030 will close the growing gap between ambition for 1.5°C and real-world delivery, says the CCC. This is a crucial 12 months.

The UK already has one of the most ambitious 2030 targets for reducing emissions in the world, designed to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal. But, says the CCC, it does not yet have all the steps in place to deliver it and UK efforts should focus on strengthening delivery of the Net Zero Strategy. Key steps need to be brought forward swiftly, including a robust plan to tackle emissions from agriculture and land.

Further, the Glasgow Climate Pact makes notable reference to the phase-out of ‘inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’. The UK has a duty to act on this in common with other countries and the CCC recommends that the Treasury initiates a review of the role of the tax system in delivering net zero. Low carbon prices are effectively a subsidy, says the Committee, and no fossil fuel subsidies should be classed as ‘efficient’.

Also, the UK’s commitment to the Glasgow Climate Pact can be demonstrated with stronger actions to tackle the UK’s wider carbon footprint. These could include stronger product standards applied equally at home and to imported goods, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and trade levers, and encouragement of stronger corporate actions to decarbonise supply chains, says the CCC.

The Committee is also interested in the UK government’s leadership role in climate negotiations, as the UK continues to hold the COP Presidency for the next year, until COP27 in Egypt. The CCC says that the UK must maintain its strong COP team with high-level leadership throughout the duration of the Presidency.

CCC Chairman Lord Deben said: ‘The UK must not walk away after COP26. The next year is critical for climate action in the UK and internationally. At home, we need to walk the talk and urgently deliver actions in the Net Zero Strategy. Globally, the UK must continue to encourage stronger action on climate and insist on rapid emissions reductions and stronger adaptation through all diplomatic channels. The ultimate success of the Glasgow Climate Pact will be measured in climate risks averted, not words on a page.’

Photo: Shutterstock


News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: UK -

Organisation: Committee on Climate Change

Subjects: Energy policy Climate change Net zero/decarbonisation/energy transition

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