UK urged not to abandon climate targets amid net zero row | Environment
Senior figures in climate diplomacy, including the key architect of the Paris climate accord, have urged the UK government to maintain its commitments to climate action, amid mounting attacks intended to generate a “culture war” against net zero.
Laurence Tubiana, French diplomat behind the 2015 Paris agreement, now chief executive of the European Climate Foundation, said: “We are not happy and we are keeping our fingers crossed [that the UK will reaffirm its net zero commitment]. It is very important that the UK maintains this direction of travel.
She and other international observers are increasingly concerned that net zero wrangling within the UK government, which has seen the Net Zero Scrutiny Group link the cost of living crisis to the carbon-cutting agenda, undermine the progress made last year at the COP26 UN climate talks.
The UK will continue to lead the talks until Egypt takes over at the next summit, COP27, in November. British leadership will be essential to the success of COP27, as countries must use the next eight months to revise their national emission reduction plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as they have agreed to. do in Glasgow.
But British diplomats will be crippled if rows at home over net zero overshadow their efforts, and if support from key cabinet ministers – including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who barely mentioned Cop26 although t is the biggest diplomatic event on British soil since the Second World War – remains lukewarm or non-existent.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, praised the UK for Glasgow’s “truly wonderful” achievements, and said it was “irresponsible” for some to claim net zero was behind the rise in energy prices. “I hope the UK will continue the leadership we saw in Glasgow and go further to ensure governments deliver on the promises they made before and during Glasgow. The UK is capable and responsible to ensure that these are implemented.
Birol added: “The current high energy prices have nothing to do with net zero. This is not a clean energy crisis or a renewable energy crisis. These claims are irresponsible and are used to attack public support for the net zero transition. »
Jennifer Morgan, the outgoing head of Greenpeace International, told the Guardian shortly before her recent appointment as the German government’s climate envoy that any indication that attacks on net zero would persuade ministers to back down would be seriously damaging. . “It would clearly undercut the UK’s standing in the world and as a partner in tackling the world’s biggest problem,” she said. “It would be a complete failure of leadership, and the world would judge [the UK government] harshly.”
The British public has also been harmed, added Rachel Kyte, a former World Bank climate chief, now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and climate adviser to the UN secretary-general. “There is something deeply troubling about potential political leaders trying to position themselves by taking advantage of high energy prices, deliberately misdiagnosing causes like the switch to renewables, then suggesting a volte as a remedy. -face harmful by abandoning net zero goals. It is perverse and dishonest, selling out the British public, and the opposite of the long-term vision demanded of leaders today in tackling climate change,” she said.
Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser now at the Progressive Policy Institute, said that while political attention has focused on Biden’s stimulus, the UK government’s net zero measures are also being considered. with worry. “Boris Johnson’s dedication to net zero is seen in Washington as the linchpin of greater ambition by nations around the world, including at COP27, so his recent troubles and the stomachaches of MPs in climate backbenchers are worrisome,” he warned. “Johnson should never allow the conservative right wing to undermine his climate legacy.”