Cop26: Boris Johnson told to ‘get off sun lounger’ and tell truth about scale of climate crisis

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Watch: COP26: Boris Johnson told to 'get a grip' ahead of climate summit instead of 'touring the beaches' on holiday

Boris Johnson must “get off the sun lounger and start being a statesman” to prevent the crucial Cop26 climate talks turning into a failure, Labour has said.

The prime minister has failed to take the summit seriously enough or be “candid” enough with the British public on the scale of action needed to address the climate crisis, the opposition party claims.

In a speech on Wednesday, Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband will say the UK and other nations are “miles away” from where they need to be ahead of next month’s UN conference in Glasgow.

And in a broadside to Mr Johnson’s holiday in the run-up to the talks, he will say: “It’s time for the prime minister to get off his sun lounger, be a statesman and make Glasgow the success we need it to be.”

Miliband accused the Conservative government of a “decade of inaction” which has stalled progress on renewables and has led to the current fuel crisis.

“We’ve stalled on renewables including on on-shore wind and solar, and nuclear programme is stalled,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “And crucially, we haven’t made the steps we need on energy efficiency. This is a decade of inaction we’ve seen that’s led us to this point.”

The senior Labour MP will also criticise Johnson’s government for failing to do enough to help industry adapt to supply problems and rising gas prices.

“Ministers are turning on each other when they should be turning outwards to engage with industry and take action by intervening,” he will say. “We can’t sit back and watch whole British industries go to the wall.”

The former Labour leader – who was at the Copenhagen UN climate summit in 2009 as climate change secretary – will say Mr Johnson’s government has failed to properly set out what Cop26 should achieve.

World leaders are under pressure to take action to meet the goals of the Paris accord to keep global temperature rises to below 2C above pre-industrial levels and aim to keep them to 1.5C – beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt.

Watch: Labour: PM must be a statesman to stop Cop26 greenwash

Mr Miliband will say we need to cut emissions by 12 billion tonnes a year in 2030 to meet the 2C target and 28 billion tonnes for achieving the 1.5C goal. But on the basis of current pledges made, there will only be a maximum reduction of four billion tonnes by 2030, he will warn.

“We need to be candid about the truth of where we are barely a fortnight from the start of Cop26. We are miles away from where we need to be,” the Labour frontbencher will tell an event hosted by the think tank Green Alliance on Wednesday.

“We cannot let Cop26 be the greenwash summit ... Above all, finally, at the 11th hour, the prime minister must treat this summit with the seriousness which it deserves.”

Mr Miliband will point to a UK trade deal with Australia, which does not include Paris temperature commitments, and the potential new coal mine in Cumbria just as the UK government is pushing other nations to end their dependence upon coal.

He will also criticise Johnson’s government for cutting its aid budget at a time when trust between developing and developed countries is key. “The government have been at best bystanders and at worst, contributors to global inaction,” he will argue.

Meanwhile, the Green Party is calling on the government to commit to a binding carbon tax at Cop26, describing it as one of the “greatest levers” to drive change in society.

The Greens propose the tax should start at £100 per tonne of every carbon dioxide released, rising to £500 per tonne by 2030. The party claimed the tax yield would provide a “dividend”, which would prevent poorer Britons being hit with higher costs.

The demands for action come after Cop26 president Alok Sharma said pledges made by G20 countries in Glasgow will be “make or break” for keeping the goal to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C within reach.

Mr Sharma has said the summit must have a negotiated outcome that drives increased ambition up to 2030, and deliver a long-promised 100 billion US dollars a year in finance for poorer countries.

In a speech in Paris on Tuesday, less than three weeks before Cop26, Mr Sharma warned leaders of major economies such as China: “I say to those G20 leaders, they simply must step up ahead of Cop26.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to use Wednesday’s meeting of G7 finance ministers in Washington to call on advanced economies to take on action to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Sunak will also urge G7 countries to boost their support for vulnerable countries. But the chancellor has faced heavy criticism for looking to save billions of pounds by “recycling” money from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) windfall as UK aid spending.

Watch: Climate change: COP26 is 'make or break' moment for dozens of island nations, Grenada minister says

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