China’s ‘moral duty’ on climate change — as Buckingham Palace goes green

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The Queen gave permission for Buckingham Palace to be lit up in green (The Royal Foundation)
The Queen gave permission for Buckingham Palace to be lit up in green (The Royal Foundation)

China and other major polluters have a “moral duty” to step up the battle against global warming, a Cabinet minister said on Friday as pressure grew on President Xi Jinping to attend COP26.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned that countries that snub the summit in Glasgow will be seen as “outliers”, with the “world watching” what action political leaders will take to stop floods, fires and other climate change disasters.

It came as the Queen gave permission for Buckingham Palace to be lit up in green to send a signal around the world that Britain is embracing the fight against global warming.

The 95-year-old monarch on Thursday appeared to suggest, in an overheard conversation, that she is irritated by lack of action in tackling the climate crisis, highlighting that she does not yet know who will be at COP26 which starts in a fortnight’s time.

In a further sign of the royal family and the UK championing the green agenda, Prince William said there was “no better place” than London for the inaugural awards ceremony of his global environment Earthshot Prize, to be staged at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.

COP26’s success will depend heavily on how seriously major polluters such as China, the US, India and Russia engage with its goals. These include “ambitious” 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century — in order to keep limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees “within reach” — and for developed countries to mobilise at least $100 billion in climate finance per year.

US President Joe Biden is set to be among the world leaders at COP26, but diplomats have reportedly warned Boris Johnson that the Chinese leader is not expected to be there. China, which is estimated to be responsible for 27 per cent of carbon emissions, is still due to send a high-level delegation and the key will be the commitments President Xi is willing to make.

Mr Shapps told Times Radio that the “most important thing is that the countries around the world feel that moral duty to step up, particularly those who output a lot of carbon and where there is a long way to go.”

Later, he told Talk Radio: “We shall wait and see who arrives and what they are pledging but the onus is on them and the whole world is watching.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has now said he will attend COP26 after weeks of controversy. Mr Morrison drew criticism when he indicated last month that he might skip the meeting.

Australia, a large producer of coal and gas, is under pressure to commit to stronger action. “I confirmed my attendance at the Glasgow summit, which I’m looking forward to attending. It is an important event,” Mr Morrison said.

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