The UK Must Take Forward its Climate Change Commitments Following COP26

Action with M.P.s/Government Climate Change and Environment

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The UK’s work is far from over as president of COP. There are still fundamental challenges that must be addressed this year: as members and supporters of UNA LASER, we should put pressure on our MPs to ensure that the UK government acts on its Glasgow promises.

Having hosted the delayed COP26 in Glasgow last November, the UK government must now ensure that the conference’s climate change agreements are taken forward. The UK’s tenure as President of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ends later this year; Egypt will take over from the UK and host COP27 in November 2022.

COP President Alok Sharma was pivotal in delivering the Glasgow Climate Pact, which contained three overarching decisions that unpacked the political narrative of the Conference of the Parties (COP). For the first time in the UNFCCC process, there is a reference to “phasing down” coal power and “phasing out” inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. The decisions also call for developed countries to double their adaptation finance from 2019 levels, by 2025; and for parties that have not yet communicated new or updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to do so before the next COP.

The second part of UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2021 outlines reforms of the international financial system to get more climate adaptation funds flowing to developing countries. Released ahead of COP26, the report called for a transformative approach to climate adaptation, with advanced economies ensuring that multilateral institutions can support developing countries to manage the pressures from a changing climate without compromising their development goals.

Estimates indicate that annual climate adaptation costs in developing countries could reach $300 billion in 2030 and, if mitigation targets are breached, as much as $500 billion by 2050. But current funding is less than a quarter of the 2030 figure and the report warns that relying on private finance will not deliver on scale or to the countries most in need.

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Please write to your MP* calling for the UK government to maintain its climate change commitments.

Moreover, it is important that the UK government should also:

  1. Use international diplomacy to drive improved emissions reduction plans globally

Emissions are on track to rise by 13% this decade; in order to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C emissions must fall by at least 45% by 2030. Countries whose targets are not yet aligned with the Paris Agreement goals are committed to submit net-zero emissions pledges ahead of COP27 and all countries are required to submit more ambitious plans in 2023 ahead of the planned global stock-take.

  1. Shift financial flows to support developing countries

Developing nations do not have the means to implement ambitious plans to reduce emissions. So far, wealthy nations have failed on their promise of donating $100bn a year in climate finance to developing countries, which will ultimately affect adaptation to climate impacts for those countries.

  1. Expand and deliver on the sector deals.

More than 100 countries at COP26 pledged to cut methane emissions this decade. The UK government, in addition, should draw together pledges on fossil fuel financing in order to support fossil-fuel-dependent nations to drive the delivery of the Glasgow Pact and work to ending fossil fuel subsidies globally.

Although COP26 is over, there are still several things on the UK’s home ‘to do’ list. As President (until it hands it over to Egypt at COP27), it should be a leader in the climate change space. On the domestic side, the UK must:

  1. Develop policies and invest to deliver the country’s own net-zero strategy, ensuring the UK can deliver on its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) commitment to cut emissions by at least 68% by 2030.
  2. Aim to sign up to the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and say ‘no’ to new fossil fuel intensive infrastructure.
  3. Lead the way on removing deforestation out of the UK supply chain and ensure that any imports of timber align with specific national laws on deforestation, thus ending the trade of illegal timber which has increased rates of deforestation in many parts of the world.

Despite the commitments made in Glasgow being ambitious, they were not deemed ambitious enough to close the gap on rising temperatures globally to 1.5°C. However, the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit believe that it will be easier for the UK presidency to achieve this target (and, indeed the other targets discussed at COP26) if it can continue to demonstrate leadership on fighting climate change at home.

Finally, it is important to note COP26 must not be the end of the UK’s climate diplomacy leadership. Instead, it should be the beginning and hopefully the sign of things to come.

* To help you find your MP’s email address, you can use this Climate Coalition guidance. (LASER is a member of the Climate Coalition.)

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