UK urged to lead critical year of climate action

COP26 has created a path to keep global warming under 2°C but only if national net zero commitments and milestone targets are met.

The UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) said this week that current climate policies around the world do not come close to achieving these goals and global temperatures are still on course to rise by around 2.7°C.

The committee stated the next 12 months would be a critical period for climate action and said only concrete steps by 2030 would close the growing gap between ambition for 1.5°C and real-world delivery.

It urged the UK government not to walk away after COP26 and highlighted the need to encourage stronger action on climate and insist on rapid emissions reductions and stronger adaptation through all diplomatic channels.

Although the CCC said the UK has one of the most ambitious 2030 targets for reducing emissions in the world, it does not yet have all the steps in place to deliver it. 

Specifically, the committee urged the government to create a robust plan to tackle emissions from agriculture and land, which was considered a major gap in the recent net zero strategy.

It also identified a gap on behaviour change such as shifting diets away from meat and dairy and limiting aviation demand growth, which it said could provide a route to slightly greater emissions reductions.

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

“The next year is critical for climate action in the UK and internationally,” said CCC chairman, Lord Deben. “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.”

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