UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke on Thursday on the need for developed countries to strengthen their ambition. In a speech to the European Council on external relations, he said: “By early 2021, countries representing more than 65% of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70% of the global economy will have made commitments ambitious in terms of carbon neutrality.
“But we are still behind in the race against time. Every country, city, financial institution and business is expected to adopt plans to transition to net zero emissions by 2050. We need to see these plans well in advance of COP26 – especially the NDCs required by the Paris agreement.
Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark review of the economics of climate change and chairman of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, told the Guardian the UK should aim for a 70% reduction in emissions by 2030 , compared to 1990. levels.
Green activists wrote to Johnson on Friday to call for adopting a carbon cut of at least 75% as UK policy, arguing it was possible in light of the government’s 10-point plan for an economy green.
The letter cited analysis showing that a 72% reduction target was now achievable, with more severe cuts possible given political will, as the world’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has shown how measures can be taken quickly in an emergency. “Given the need for the UK to shoulder its fair share of global emissions reductions on the basis of historic responsibility, we need to go further and faster and commit to seizing every opportunity to even exceed this goal, as well as leading global efforts to close the gap. at 1.5C ”, the signatories wrote.
The Treasury was reportedly reluctant to commit more money to key aspects of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to move to a low-carbon economy. The key question is whether those who want slower climate action will win the prime minister.
The 10-point plan would still leave the UK would leave the UK behind the EU and slightly behind France in the global green recovery, in a global ranking prepared by Vivid Economics for the Guardian, which also revealed that the world continued to sink. money in fossil fuels.
If the UK were still an EU member state, it would be part of the block sharing deal on carbon reductions. The EU will likely formalize an overall emissions reduction target of 55% for 2030, which would imply emissions reductions for the UK of over 65%, on which some members of the government are basing their calculations. The climate change commission also estimated the UK could hit a 65% target in a report last year, although it is expected to revise its figures.
But a target of less than 70% would be seen by some other countries as not setting a good example.
Johnson must act quickly to resolve divergent views on the UK’s ambition for its 2030 target, ahead of a meeting he called of world leaders in December, experts told The Guardian. An unambitious target would be seen as a bad indicator of the British presidency of the upcoming UN climate negotiations.
Stern said the prime minister showed his commitment to a low-carbon economy in his 10-point plan. ” [He] now understands it’s a story of growth, not a burden, ”Stern said. “But it requires solid investment and innovation.”
As part of the Paris climate agreement, all countries must come forward by the end of this year with strengthened commitments to reduce emissions, in line with the objective of limiting temperature increases well below 2 ° C, with an aspiration to stay within 1.5 ° C of pre-industrial levels. levels. The current commitments, made in 2015, would lead to 3C of heating, which scientists say would have catastrophic consequences.
In recent weeks, China and Japan have pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This will meet the long-term targets required by Paris, but still leaves questions about short-term commitments on specific emission reductions over the next decade.
Johnson and his ministers and officials have repeatedly urged other countries to come up with their NDCs.
The Guardian understands that the UK intends to release its NDC ahead of a crucial meeting of world leaders next month, which will be hosted by Johnson and Guterres. The climate ambition summit will take place on December 12, the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris agreement.
The virtual meeting of world leaders is seen as a crucial step on the way to Cop26, the UN climate summit which was due to start last week but, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is to be held in next November in Glasgow.
Countries are expected to submit their NDCs by the end of this year, so the UN and scientific experts will have time to review them in detail ahead of Cop26.
However, the UK is likely to move closer to its own December 12 summit deadline. Indeed, the climate change committee – the government’s statutory advisers – will report on a sixth carbon budget, for the period 2033-2037, on December 9. Ministers are expected to wait until then before announcing the UK NDC.
Chris Stark, chief executive of the committee, told The Guardian: “To be a good chair of these discussions, a good chair, I think we need to have a solid set of national emission reduction plans here in the UK. “