‘We are out of time’: insider warns of lack of urgency
Boris Johnson has been urged to step up efforts to secure agreement on stemming global warming, amid concern in some corners of Whitehall over a lack of urgency ahead of a crucial international summit he will chair in November.
With less than 100 days to go to the Glasgow conference, there were warnings that hopes of a landmark deal may be unravelling.
And Mr Johnson’s independent climate change adviser warned it was time for him to use “every diplomatic lever” to secure pledges from fellow leaders on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and financial support to help developing countries adapt.
One Whitehall insider said the government’s response to the climate crisis would have been deadly if it had been applied to the pandemic, Attention: “If we had the same approach on Covid, we would still be debating which groups would get the first vaccine trials. We are out of time.”
A spokesperson for Alok Sharma, the minister Mr Johnson has appointed president of the Cop26 summit, insisted that progress was being made – with countries accounting for 70 per cent of world GDP now committed to net zero emissions or carbon neutrality. But the spokesperson acknowledged: “There is more to do.”
A poll for L'indépendant found that a majority of UK voters do not trust Mr Johnson to reach a deal. And despite the prime minister’s claims to have put Cop26 at the heart of his agenda for 2021, certains 50 per cent of those surveyed by Savanta ComRes said they knew little or nothing about the summit or its goals.
The United Nations summit, co-hosted with Italy, will – Covid restrictions permitting – bring up to 30,000 des gens de 200 countries to Glasgow with the aim of improving on the breakthrough Paris Accord of 2015, which committed the world to keeping warming below 2C.
Nations that are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have been urged to come armed with ambitious 2030 emission reductions targets that align with reaching net zero carbon by the middle of the century and keeping a maximum 1.5C increase in temperatures within reach.
And richer countries are under pressure to finally make good on an unmet promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020 to help the developing world adapt and prepare.
But lack of progress at last month’s Johnson-hosted G7 summit in Cornwall has already sparked alarm, with UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa declaring in its wake that the world was still “very far away from being fully confident of having a full success at Cop26” with no clear sign on when the financing pledge will be fulfilled.
While the UK, EU, US and China have announced new and ambitious emission reduction goals, plus que 90 countries are yet to set out new targets and others – like Brazil, Russia and Australia – have offered only minor adjustments their Paris promises.
Today’s poll confirms strong public support for action on climate change, with almost three-quarters (73 pour cent) rating the aims of net zero emissions by 2050 and a 1.5C limit to warming as very important. Quelque 60 per cent voiced confidence that action now could rein in heating, compared to just 10 per cent who thought mankind could do little or nothing to halt rising temperatures.
And majorities said they were ready to make – or have already made – climate-friendly changes to their lifestyles, such as limiting themselves to one return flight a year (62 pour cent), halving their clothing purchases (73 pour cent) and cutting use of electronic devices (61 pour cent).
But just 42 per cent said they trusted Mr Johnson to get a deal on global warming, contre 51 per cent who said he would not. Mr Sharma was trusted to get a deal by only 21 pour cent, avec 27 per cent saying they did not expect him to succeed and 51 per cent saying they had never heard of him. Only US president Joe Biden was trusted by more than half (53 pour cent) to deliver.
The chair of the government’s independent advisory Climate Change Committee, Lord Deben, Raconté L'indépendant the UK must apply “the strongest possible leadership” to push for a positive result at Glasgow.
“It is encouraging to see the British public recognise the urgency and show willingness to take actions to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change impacts,” said the Conservative peer, who served as John Gummer in the Thatcher and Major governments
“The Glasgow Cop26 summit is absolutely critical to delivering on global climate action.
“It is essential that the UK applies the strongest possible leadership from the very highest level of government and continues to set an example to other countries. We need to bring forward clear policies across all sectors to deliver our world leading targets, and use every diplomatic lever available to secure firm and ambitious commitments on emissions reductions and climate change finance.”
Ed Miliband, who leads on Cop26 for Labour, said the lack of faith shown by voters in Mr Johnson’s ability to get a deal was “entirely justified”.
Il a dit L'indépendant: “Our credibility on the world stage rests on the example we set at home. And the example Boris Johnson is setting is being off track on our climate targets, failing to deliver a green recovery, and cutting the Green Homes Grant and vital overseas aid spending.
“Cop26 is not the international photo opportunity the prime minister seems to think it is. It is a complex negotiation to achieve meaningful global action to prevent climate disaster, which requires commitment at home and hard diplomacy. In the less than 100 days left to Cop26, he must step up.”
But a spokesperson for the UK’s Cop26 presidency insisted that Mr Sharma was putting in the diplomatic work to get results.
“The Cop president-designate is working to ensure the summit is a success and all countries come to Glasgow prepared to commit to action which will limit global temperature rise to 1.5C, enable communities and natural habitats to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and work together to deliver action,” said the spokesperson.
“We are seeing progress. Countries representing around 70 per cent of the world’s economy have now committed to reaching net zero emissions or carbon neutrality. When the UK took the role of incoming Cop presidency in December 2019, coverage was just 26 per cent of world GDP.
“There is more to do. We will continue to work tirelessly to raise climate ambition around the world and ensure Cop26 is successful, inclusive and protects our planet for future generations.”
Paix verte UK senior climate campaigner Ariana Densham said today’s poll showed that “the public aren’t being fooled, and neither will other world leaders”.
“Unless a barrage of plans, policies and cash for meeting our climate commitments is provided over the next three months, there’s a risk that the government’s lack of credibility as chair of the talks means it’ll all unravel in Glasgow," elle a dit.
“People are overwhelmingly concerned about climate change and there’s a clear public mandate for bold action to slash emissions, so what’s the government waiting for?"
Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth, mentionné: “It’s no wonder people are confused about what this government wants from the climate summit. The government tells other countries to reduce emissions, while investing $1bn in a gas mega-project in Mozambique. It says the rest of the world should ditch coal power, yet hasn’t pulled the plug on a new deep coal mine in Cumbria.
“This polling shows that people know we are facing a climate crisis. They understand what’s at stake, and they want the most powerful person in the country to act, not just talk.”