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Government Delaying Climate Change Action Is The Biggest Threat To Earth, Ed Miliband Warns

4 min read

Delaying action on cutting emissions by global governments is now the biggest threat to the planet, Labour’s Ed Miliband has said following the release of the UN’s “code red” report into climate change.

The former secretary of state for energy and climate change said the “best hope” now is for leaders attending the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow this November to agree to limit temperature rise to 1.5 C. He believed the bulk of emissions in the UK should be cut this decade.

A damning report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released today found that the current rate of emissions of greenhouse gases could see the key temperature limit of 1.5 C broken in just over a decade, and there could be a rise in sea level by 2m by the end of the century.

“The biggest threat we now face is not climate denial but climate delay including from the UK government," Miliband said in response to the IPCC report.

"The scene is now set for COP26, our last, best hope of a global breakthrough to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

“The message to the Government here and those around the world is enough rhetoric, enough delay – the era of action is now.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called today's report "a code red for humanity".

"If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today's report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success," Guterres added. 

Just six years ago at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, world leaders agreed to a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 C of pre-industrial levels, with an aim to limit the increase to 1.5 C.

But the IPCC, which is the world’s leading authority on climate science, found that the human impact on the earth’s climate is unprecedented, the planet is warming faster than expected and that some changes are now irreversible.

Crucially it predicted that by 2040 temperatures could have risen by more than 1.5 C which will bring more extreme and devastating weather.

Floods in Germany and fires in Greece this summer have provided an alarming backdrop for many European leaders heading into the COP26 talks in Scotland this autumn.

Pressure from other political parties is mounting on the UK government today, as well as the leadership of other country's to act on the report.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said today: “We’re seeing repercussions of decades of complacency & disregard for climate. Alarm bells are deafening – there can be no further excuse for inaction.”

Liberal Democrat leader and former energy secretary in the Coalition government, Sir Ed Davey, said: "There is still time to save the planet, but only if we act now. Boris Johnson's dither and delay is costing us time we cannot afford, with drastic consequences. As host of COP26, the UK needs to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis. No excuses."

The UK government said today that it is lobbying countries to increase their ambitions tackling on climate change ahead of the COP26 meeting.

The event’s President, Alok Sharma MP, will be meeting with scientists later today and is encouraging countries that have not already done so to urgently submit new or updated nationally determined contributions (NDC’s) on their emissions reduction strategy and climate adaption. In particular, he has said he wants the major economies of the G20 who are responsible for over 80 percent of global emissions to send in their plans.

A UK government spokesperson said the report showed “human activity is damaging the planet at an alarming rate” and that cutting global emissions, starting immediately, to net zero by 2050 would give a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C in the long-term.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the report as "sobering reading".

"It is clear that the next decade is going to be pivotal to securing the future of our planet," he added.

"We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline. 

“The UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit.”

The UK plans to reduce its emissions by 68 percent by 2030 and 78 percent by 2035, which an aim of reaching net zero by 2050.

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