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Leading the way on net-zero

4 min read

The minister for energy security and net zero, Graham Stuart MP, reiterates the UK’s unwavering commitment to achieving net-zero at home whilst rallying our partners around the world so that we can combat the climate crisis together.

The world is seriously off track in meeting the challenge of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the authoritative global scientific group) provides grimmer news with each update – though it also emphasises that the challenge can be met if we develop the collective will. It says that global emissions must peak by 2025, and be reduced by 43% compared to 2019 levels by 2030 if we are to keep temperature rises to less than 1.5C.  

The UK’s domestic record is a good one. We were the first major economy to sign net-zero into law, slashed emissions faster than any other major economy between 1990 and 2021 and we are home to the world’s four largest operational offshore wind farms. 

In 2010 we inherited an electricity system with less than 7% of generation coming from renewables and where, in 2012, coal provided nearly 40% of generation. Next year coal will have been removed entirely and renewables reached nearly 48% in the first quarter of this year. The UK has overdelivered on all its carbon budgets to date and is investing heavily in innovation and developing sectors such as carbon capture usage and storage, and hydrogen.  

“COP28 later this year will be an opportunity to take stock and reflect on our significant climate achievements while also building momentum for the global effort to tackle climate change”

Maintaining our pathway to net-zero is challenging but, I believe, can and will be done. Given we produce less than 1% of global emissions, however, the key part of our climate leadership has been galvanising efforts to address climate change internationally. 

It was in this context that I represented the UK at the UN Climate Ambitions Summit in New York in September as we seek to persuade the rest of the world – and the largest emitters in particular – to follow the UK in taking decisive action. 

That is why the UK’s Presidency at COP26 was so important. Just 30% of global GDP was covered by net-zero pledges when we began. A remarkable 90% was covered by the time our COP President, Alok Sharma, handed the Presidency to Egypt last year.  

Today we remain as determined as ever to build on what we achieved at COP26, and deliver on the Glasgow Climate Pact, spearheading efforts to decarbonise key sectors of the global economy through UK-led initiatives such as the Breakthrough Agenda.  

We are delivering on our £11.6bn international climate finance pledge to support developing countries. At the G20 in September, the Prime Minister announced a $2bn commitment to the Green Climate Fund – the single biggest funding commitment the UK has made to help the world tackle climate change. To date our climate finance has supported over 100 million people to adapt to climate change, and provided almost 70 million people with improved access to clean energy. 

Ahead of COP28 in November, my focus is driving change on this global scale, working with others to go further and faster to cut emissions, accelerate the shift to cleaner energy sources, and protect our natural world for future generations. 

Through the UK’s pragmatic and realistic approach to achieving net-zero, we can continue to be a global example of how greening and growth go hand in hand – taking the long-term decisions that ease the burdens for the British public whilst maintaining our world-leading commitments to driving down emissions. 

Key to this is seizing the economic opportunities of the green transition – with the world set to invest a record $1.8tn in clean energy alone in 2023. 

We’re already making fantastic progress. We have attracted £120bn in renewable investment to the UK since 2010 – and the clean energy boom is expected to attract a further £100bn in private investment by 2030, supporting up to 480,000 skilled jobs across the country.   

Our approach will strengthen UK energy security with homegrown supplies, while we also accelerate renewables to drive down bills in the long term – delivering a brighter future for the country.  

“The message I will deliver will be clear: the UK is committed to delivering net-zero here at home but, more importantly, will work with partners around the world to help them get on the same track"

COP28 later this year will be an opportunity to take stock and reflect on our significant climate achievements – while also building momentum for the global effort to tackle climate change.  

Three months on from New York I look forward to representing the UK at the next key moment for global climate action. The message I will deliver will be clear: the UK is committed to delivering net-zero here at home but, more importantly, will work with partners around the world to help them get on the same track. 

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