Menu

Login to access your account

Sun, 27 September 2020

Personalise Your Politics

Subscribe now
The House Live All
How are Coca-Cola European Partners contributing to the UK’s sustainable future? Partner content
Environment
Smarter and more efficient homes are crucial to meeting net-zero Partner content
By Smart Energy GB
Environment
Low carbon homes will play a key role in reaching net-zero Partner content
Environment
Engineering is critically important to solve some of the biggest issues the country faces Partner content
Environment
Coca-Cola European Partners reaches major sustainability milestone Partner content
Environment
Press releases

A bold emissions target is key to Britain leading the fight against climate change

A bold emissions target is key to Britain leading the fight against climate change

The sooner we begin deploying clean technologies like electric cars, green hydrogen, and carbon capture, the sooner their costs will fall due to economies of scale and learning, writes Tim Loughton MP. | PA Images

4 min read

Hosting COP26 next year presents an opportunity for a newly independent Global Britain to strengthen international climate action, by setting an ambitious emissions target of our own by 2030.

In November next year, the UK will play host to the UN climate summit in Glasgow, known as ‘COP26’.

This is a critical opportunity for post-Brexit Britain to strengthen international climate action. However, to persuade other nations to commit to more rapid emission reductions, the UK must first submit a much more ambitious target for cutting emissions by 2030. 

One of the UK’s main jobs as conference president will be to encourage other countries to take stronger national action.

While all signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement were required to sign up to a set of global climate goals, each country’s individual contribution is voluntary - with the requirement only to update their national commitments every five years.

As things stand, if the national targets of all countries are added together, the world will miss the goals agreed in Paris.

We cannot allow other countries to credibly cite UK inaction as a reason for shirking their own responsibilities on climate.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advises that the world must at least halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

On our current trajectory, temperature rises could be 3.2°C by the end of the century. This could lead to more severe droughts and flooding - which would dwarf the horrific human costs we’ve experienced due to Covid-19 and the associated economic fallout.

This is the perfect international role for a newly independent Global Britain.

But we must be clear that raising other countries’ ambition will be hard diplomatic work. It will require high-level and sustainable engagement by our most senior cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister. It will require strategic use of our development budget by the new FCDO. It will require the cajoling of major players from the private sector, especially financial institutions, into setting their own net zero targets. 

Essential to this strategy is also our record at home. We cannot allow other countries to credibly cite UK inaction as a reason for shirking their own responsibilities on climate.

While all our climate policies will be under scrutiny, the most significant symbol will be our ‘nationally determined contribution’ (NDC) - in other words, our target for reducing emissions by 2030. 

A stretching UK 2030 target could be the cornerstone of our COP26 diplomatic strategy and of our post-Covid economic recovery.

Our current 2030 target was set when we were still members of the EU Emissions Trading System and before we passed our 2050 net zero target. It is as a result not very ambitious.

In line with UN requirements, the government is currently considering setting a new target, and it is imperative that ministers are bold in order to give UK diplomats maximum leverage when lobbying other countries.

This means it must be aligned with our net zero target and with the goal in the Paris Agreement of attempting to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

While not a silver bullet for securing a successful outcome from COP26, an ambitious UK NDC is certainly a prerequisite. As president, we have to be seen by other countries to walk the walk, as well as talking the talk.

Armed with a world-leading UK NDC, our diplomats and ministers will enjoy more success overseas when pushing for investment in reforestation programmes or a phase-out of coal-fired power stations.

Submitting a more ambitious UK NDC would also help other government priorities here at home.

It would demonstrate once again to EU trade negotiators that the UK remains committed to maintaining and raising environment standards. This new NDC - the first one we will submit on our own - is an opportunity to send yet another powerful signal of our determination to be more ambitious than the EU on the environment.

Going faster on emissions reduction ahead of 2030 would also be a more cost-effective way of decarbonising than delaying action.

The sooner we begin deploying clean technologies like electric cars, green hydrogen, and carbon capture, the sooner their costs will fall due to economies of scale and learning.

This is the lesson from the incredible UK offshore wind sector, in which prices have fallen by two-thirds in just a few years. In the same way, faster near-term action would play a key role in bringing down post-Covid unemployment and boosting the government’s vital levelling up agenda by supporting UK jobs in green supply chains. 

A stretching UK 2030 target could be the cornerstone of our COP26 diplomatic strategy and of our post-Covid economic recovery.

As we pave a new course outside of the EU, we must seize the opportunity as host of COP26 to be a leader in the fight against climate change - starting with an NDC that is aligned with our net zero target and fulfills our obligations under the Paris Agreement. 

 

Tim Loughton is the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham.

Categories

Environment
Partner content
Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

Find out more

Read more All
Environment
Environment
Environment
Coronavirus