The UK has fired the starting gun for stronger climate targets in the lead up to pivotal global climate negotiations next year, with a new commitment to cut carbon emissions by 68 per cent this decade.
The Prime Minister announced the new target, which is based on 1990 levels, ahead of a virtual UN Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December, which saw countries around the world begin to submit their own 2030 targets as part of the Paris Agreement.
Under the Paris Agreement, each country must submit its own ‘nationally determined contribution’ to tackling climate change every five years. At next year’s landmark UN climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, nearly 200 countries will come together to determine whether their collective commitments are strong enough to keep the world on track to prevent global temperature rise to below 2ºC.
As host of COP26, the UK is expected to lead the way. The new 2030 target is a significant increase on previous ambitions and is, at least for now, the most ambitious target in the G20 group of major economies. Experts say it will mean increasing the planned pace of carbon reduction by around 50 per cent this decade, requiring significant government intervention across the economy. The recently-announced Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution is seen as a first step in this direction.
Business secretary and COP26 president, Alok Sharma, said the new target “reflects the urgency and scale of the challenge our planet faces” and called on other countries to “join us and raise the bar”. The EU’s 27 member states recently announced their own stronger carbon reduction target of at least 55 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
‘Spotlight is on’
Business groups have widely welcomed the UK’s commitment. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “At a time when the eyes of the world will be on the UK as host of the forthcoming COP26 summit, the commitment to this extremely ambitious target is hugely welcome and puts Britain front and centre as a leader in tackling the climate crisis.
"While delivering a 68 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 undoubtedly represents a real stretch, there is no doubt that business is up for the challenge as we build back better and greener following the pandemic.”
Peter Simpson, co-chair of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, said: “There’s never been a more important time for companies to step up, invest, and take action to support both national ambition and global need. COP26 means the spotlight is on. Climate change won’t wait for us, and the time for action is now.”
Posted under General Interest, Climate Change and What it Means to You and Environmental Regulations and Legislation on 16 December 2020