The UK is expected to this week announce steeper climate targets as it prepares to host the COP26 summit in November this year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a new pledge to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. The new targets will be announced ahead of a major US climate summit this Thursday, where president Biden is expected to outline a new national goal for US emissions reduction.
What is Happening?
- This new target is an improvement from its previous aim of a 68% reduction in emissions by 2030, which was already ambitious.
- Meeting these steeper climate targets will require changes to most industrial activity, including a clean electricity system, a reduction in meat and dairy consumption across the UK, low-carbon heating systems in homes and planting more woodland. Emissions from international aviation and shipping are likely to be included in the new UK target.
- Additionally, the UK has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and it was one of the first major economies to do so.
- As host of this year’s COP26 summit in November, the UK has been trying to convince other countries to adopt more ambitious climate goals ahead of the meeting. However, it is unclear whether the summit will go ahead due to COVID-19; the UK is making contingency plans that include a virtual summit, delaying the event, or a hybrid model with only a small number of attendees.
- The UK has made green policies a priority, introducing a ban from 2030 sales of new petrol cars and new targets for offshore wind generation, although some environmental groups say he has not gone far enough. The government received criticism earlier this year for approving a colliery in Cumbria, which would have been the first new deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years. That decision was subsequently reversed and the mine put on hold.
- Not all parties are pleased with the new targets. Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary, dubbed the shift “targets without delivery,” adding “while any strengthening of our targets is the right thing to do, the government can’t be trusted to match rhetoric with reality.”
You might also like: US, China Vow to Cooperate to Tackle Climate Change
He says, “Ministers have failed to bring forward an ambitious green recovery, passing up three major fiscal events to do so. They are flirting with proposals for a new deep coal mine, axed the vital housing retrofit scheme, and are way off track for our net zero targets.”
Featured image by: Flickr