Alok Sharma: UK must push forward on climate action like other countries

Alok Sharma President of the Cop26 climate summit (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Alok Sharma President of the Cop26 climate summit (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

The UK needs to push forward on delivering its climate goals just as it is asking other countries to do, Cop26 President Alok Sharma has said.

The UN climate summit in Glasgow agreed a pact asking countries to accelerate action and come forward with more ambitious plans for emissions-cutting efforts up to 2030 to limit dangerous warming.

In the wake of the summit, the independent advisory Climate Change Committee (CCC) urged the Government to focus on delivering on its delivering on its promises for emissions cuts in the next decade, for which it does not have all the policies in place, rather than increasing ambition.

Speaking to MPs at a parliamentary hearing hosted by the Environmental Audit Committee Mr Sharma said the CCC had recognised the UK’s 2030 plans – known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC) – were aligned to global goals to prevent the worst impacts of rising temperature.

Caroline Lucas (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Caroline Lucas (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

And they had recognised the Government’s net zero strategy, for cutting emissions to zero overall by 2050, set out before Cop26, was positive and an “international benchmark”, he said.

But he said: “Delivery is an issue, I think, for absolutely every single country.”

He pointed to an agreement secured as part of the negotiations in Glasgow on how all countries would transparently report on their emissions reductions to track progress in tackling the issue.

“That’s the point, with the mechanism that we’ve agreed, is we can now track delivery – and in the same way that we ask others to push forward on delivery, obviously that’s something the UK continues to need to do as well.”

Mr Sharma was asked by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas about a spreadsheet detailing the expected emissions cuts from specific policies in the net zero strategy, which the Government is refusing to publish despite a request under Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) by the PA news agency.

He said he was happy to ask other ministerial colleagues who had direct responsibility for the net zero strategy and come back to the MPs on the issue.

Mr Sharma, who remains president of Cop26 until he hands over the reins to Egypt at the start of Cop27 in November next year, said the expectation from countries was that the UK delivers a “full fat presidency year” working on delivering the commitments made in Glasgow.

All countries are required to come back by the end of 2022 and see if their 2030 emissions reduction targets are in line with the goals to keep temperature rises to well below 2C or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – as agreed in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

There are also commitments to deliver on finance for developing countries to deal with climate change and work on ensuring countries and communities can adapt to inevitable changes such as more extreme weather.

“There are a whole range of commitments that we have got from parties and we want to ensure that those commitments are being met,” he said.

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