UK will press countries to adhere to climate pledges

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

The UK is continuing to press governments around world to limit global warming to 1.5C ,after the UN Climate talks, which concluded last Week, the president of summit has promised.

Alok Sharma, the cabinet minister who led the Cop26 talks, said the world had shown in Glasgow that countries could work together to establish a framework for climate action but the next year must focus on keeping the promises made there.

” The 1.5C limit lives,” he wrote in today’s Guardian. “We saved it from the brink. Its pulse is still weak. We must steer it to safety by ensuring countries deliver on the promises they have made.”

Some argued the talks had failed because the pledges on emissions cuts made at Cop26 were insufficient to meet the 1.5C goal.

Sharma acknowledged that countries must increase their pledges and turn them into action and policies. Referring to youth activists from around the world who urged political leaders to act in Glasgow, he said: “We owe it to all of them to deliver what we agreed.”

Two weeks of Cop26 talks ended in dramatic fashion as Sharma feared the carefully constructed deal among nearly 200 countries was about to collapse at the last moment, when China and India objected to a reference in the final agreement to the “phase out” of coal-fired power.

Sharma was on the verge of tears, as he apologized to the developing countries for the compromise reached. The talks’ pledges to reduce emissions would result in a heating rate of about 2.4C above preindustrial levels. This is far higher than the 1.5C threshold. Therefore, the Glasgow Pact requires that countries revise their targets upwards for the following year.

Under the UN rules, the UK will retain responsibility for climate negotiations for the next year, until the Egyptian government assumes the presidency next November. Sharma outlines his goals in his first public writing after the talks ended.

“The UK’s work as the Cop26 presidency is really only just beginning,” he writes. “We will continue to work with other countries over the next year, urging them take action and keep their promises.

“There is no formal policing process in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change system, and so we must keep up the constructive pressure, and build on the trust and goodwill generated through Cop26.”

The lack of any policing process or sanctions for countries that fail to revise their national targets on emissions, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), means that the main ways of holding governments to account are through public scrutiny and political pressure.

Australia’s government has already made clear that it does not intend to increase its targets, which are widely regarded as inadequate. The US and EU also stated that they don’t intend to increase their ambition.

Key countries in the spotlight include China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, who has failed to meet its promise to reduce emissions. Analysts also doubted China’s ability to reach higher levels by 2020. India, the third-largest emitter, announced new targets at Glasgow, but has not yet provided details. Russia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil are also under scrutiny.

Sharma argues that business and finance will play a key role. He writes that markets are falling in line with the decline of shares in global coal companies since the signal was sent that coal is no more king.

Green campaigners have told the Guardian that if the UK wants to show leadership this year, ministers must also look to their own actions. Proposals for a new coalmine in Cumbria, new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, airport and road expansion and dithering on green policy have tarnished the UK’s reputation, while above all the decision to slash overseas aid – even while the Cop26 talks centred on climate finance for poor countries – caused deep alarm.

Sharma was widely regarded as isolated within the cabinet at Cop26, as insiders told the Guardian of a rift between the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and prime minister, Boris Johnson, over green measures.

Sunak visited the summit briefly but made little impact on senior figures from other countries present. Liz Truss (foreign secretary), also played a small role in Glasgow.

Rachel Kyte, a former World Bank top official on climate change, now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University in the US, told the Guardian that getting other donor countries to increase climate finance “was made even more complicated by UK Treasury’s insistence on cutting overseas aid. Although this was later confirmed to be temporary, the damage was done. The UK lost its moral authority and leverage, just like the US presidency that we witnessed them struggling with. Alok was respected and liked wherever he went, but people didn’t realize that he was lonely [in the cabinet as a champion of climate action]. “

Rachel Kennerley, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The fight to curb climate breakdown didn’t end with Mr Sharma’s gavel coming down on an underwhelming deal. Next week, the high court will be hearing about UK-financed Mozambique gas drilling. This is the perfect moment for the government’s to pull support for this harmful project.

“Given the UK’s historical contributions to emissions alongside our role as Cop host, it’s right that we take a good look at the fact that we are still supporting fossil fuel extraction, here and overseas.”

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