The government has declared that it will end direct support for overseas fossil fuel projects, as the UK plays host to a key climate summit.
The Climate Ambition Summit, set to get underway later this afternoon, will mark five years since the adoption of the Paris Climate agreement and will platform leaders who are ready to make new commitments to deliver on the goals set out in 2015.
Boris Johnson’s pledge to stop supporting overseas fossil fuel projects through export finance, aid funding and trade promotion will form part of the government’s commitments.
Other world leaders expected to address the conference include French president Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, the secretary general of the United Nations António Guterres and president Xi Jinping of China.
UK has submitted its new national plan to the UN’s climate body
The UK has submitted its new national climate plan- or nationally determined contribution (NDC) – to the UN’s climate body, confirming its vow to cut greenhouse gas pollution by at least 68% by 2030 from 1990 levels.
It’s the first time the UK has put forward its own proposal under the global Paris Agreement, as it previously came under the European Union’s plans.
Boris Johnson’s blueprint is a considerable step-up compared to the EU’s previous plan, which would have seen the UK cut pollution by just 53% as part of the EU’s wider effort to cut emissions by 40% by 2030.
However, the EU has also announced bolder targets this year, with plans to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 55% on 1990 levels across its 27 member states.
Ahead of today’s climate ambition summit, the UK has outlined how the country will adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis, including ecological threats, heatwaves, water shortages and flooding.
And it has re-confirmed its pledge from 2019 to double funding for developing countries to help them cope with the climate emergency, to £11.6 billion over the next five years.
Katie Anderson12 December 2020 12:39
UK to halt funding for overseas fossil fuel projects
UK taxpayer funds will no longer be used to support overseas fossil fuel projects, as part of the government’s push for international climate action.
Under the new plans, the UK Government will end export finance, aid funding and trade promotion for new crude oil, natural gas or coal energy projects, with “very limited exceptions” for some gas-fired power plants and other schemes.
Boris Johnson and his cabinet have been accused of hypocrisy for pushing a domestic green agenda and hosting COP26 while continuing to fund oil and gas developments in foreign nations.
Over the last four years, taxpayers have supported £21bn of overseas fossil fuel developments through trade promotion and export finance.
Although the move is being celebrated by climate crisis activists, many still worry that the government will find loopholes to fund polluting projects.
Katie Anderson 12 December 2020 12:06
US poised to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord under Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed that when he enters the White House he will prioritise rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, the international pact to cut global emissions and get a grip on the climate crisis.
“I will join the Paris Accord because with us out of it… It’s all falling apart,” he said during a presidential debate with Donald Trump, pointing to the rampant destruction of Brazil’s rainforests in the vacuum of US diplomatic leadership.
Back in 2015 the US, the world’s second-largest emitter, pledged to reduce emission levels between 26-28 per cent by 2025 from 2005 levels. It is not on track to reach those goals.
President Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2017, calling it a “disaster” for America and saying the decision was an end to “the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”
A group of interdisciplinary scientists found these claims to be false. They published a report looking at the implications of withdrawing and suggested that by the end of the century, the US could be about 5 per cent poorer with about $8trillion in losses.
President-elect Biden will not need the backing of the US Senate support to rejoin the accord, as it was set up as an executive agreement.
After rejoining, it is expected that the US will need to submit updated emission reduction targets from the Obama goals, along with a plan on how it plans to do so.
Katie Anderson 12 December 2020 11:47
Who is lagging behind on their climate promises?
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison won’t be taking part in the talks, as other leaders feel he is acting too slowly with regard to the climate crisis.
Selwin Hart, the special adviser to UN secretary-general António Guterres on climate action, said Australia had not met the threshold needed to speak.
“The three co-hosts – the UN, UK and France – provided all member states with very clear guidance from the outset that speaking slots would go to countries and other actors who show the most ambition right now”, he said.
The country has been hit by devastating climate-linked wildfires in 2020, but has shown little ambition to increase its climate commitments, despite domestic pressure to do so.
Russia will not be represented at the conference either – and it has been accused of dragging its feet.
Even though it has a target of cutting emissions to 70% of 1990 levels by 2030, campaigners warn that because its pollution is now lower than it was in 1990 due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, its target will still allow emissions to rise.
South Africa and Saudi Arabia also won’t be involved in the Climate talks.
Katie Anderson 12 December 2020 11:23
What is this weekend’s climate summit trying to achieve?
The Climate Ambition event will see nations showcase what they are doing to meet their Paris Agreement pledges, and how they plan to accelerate their actions going forward.
Each country must set out their agenda under the three pillars of the Paris Accord: mitigation, adaption and finance. There will be “no space for general statements”, said the organisers.
In light of coronavirus, the online summit is supposed to apply pressure on countries to announce bolder carbon-cutting targets.
It is hoped dramatic plans from the world’s largest economies will provide global leadership and will inspire other countries to follow suit.
A five-year review of this kind, intended to ramp up ambition, was included in the original 2015 agreement.
Katie Anderson12 December 2020 10:56
Is the 1.5C Paris Climate Accord target still within reach?
Five years ago, almost all of the world’s countries pledged to try and keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
It was the most optimistic target of the historical Paris Climate Agreement, and for many is seen as the only acceptable outcome for people and planet.
Global average temperatures are already around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. And current policies from world leaders would put us on a path to around 3C of warming by the end of the century.
However, recent analysis by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), found that if all the new net zero pledges are met by 2050, it could hold global average temperatures in 2100 to as low as 2.1C above pre-industrial levels.
It is worth noting that this new result relies on countries rapidly turning their net-zero pledges into action.
Cutting emissions at the pace needed to hit net zero by 2050 will not be an easy task for any country, according to climate scientist Dr Hausfather: “We’re not just talking about building a lot of wind and solar, we are talking about decarbonising every single sector of the economy: agriculture, industry, transport, aviation.”
Katie Anderson12 December 2020 10:35
EU leaders pledge to cut emissions by 55% by 2030
EU leaders have agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, ahead of the Climate Ambition summit.
The new promise is a key step towards the trading bloc’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, tweeted: “Europe will reduce emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. It puts us on a clear path towards climate neutrality in 2050.”
The decision came after tense deliberation between lower-income countries in central and eastern Europe who have historically relied on coal, and richer EU states with bolder climate ambitions.
The final document of the deal vows to offer financial aid to the lower-income EU member nations so that they can “modernise their energy systems and improve energy efficiency”.
Katie Anderson12 December 2020 10:12
Good morning and welcome to the Independent’s live coverage of the Climate Ambition summit 2020. The virtual event, held later on today, will bring together world leaders to make new commitments to tackle the climate crisis.
Katie Anderson12 December 2020 09:52