By: Pramod Thomas
BRITISH minister who chaired the Cop26 climate summit has said that tackling the climate crisis must be a whole government effort or risk becoming “just a bunch of meaningless promises”, reported The Guardian.
Alok Sharma has added that all of his colleagues must bear joint responsibility for the UK’s net-zero agenda and that the international community viewed continued UK efforts as vital.
“Given that people do see that the UK has shown a great deal of international leadership when it comes to climate, it’s important we maintain that focus across the whole of the UK government,” Sharma told The Guardian. “When it comes to domestic policy, it’s vital that every country – including the UK – focuses on delivery.”
Without a focus on net-zero from the government, there was a danger that the progress made in Glasgow would be undermined, he added.
“What people will judge us on, as they will also judge other governments on, is delivery (on climate goals). The key issue is to show that countries are delivering on (their Cop26) commitments and they are not wavering,” the minister was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
“That is what is going to give confidence to parties (to the Paris agreement), the climate-vulnerable countries, to civil society, but globally as well, that we are making progress on promises – that it’s not just a bunch of meaningless promises, that there is real commitment to deliver them as well.”
The UK continues to act as president of the ongoing diplomatic effort to fulfil the 2015 Paris agreement until Egypt takes over next November. Sharma is likely to hold the role until then, though he would not be drawn on rumoured proposals for him to lead a new cross-cutting government department to oversee net zero.
According to the report, Sharma’s impassioned intervention on net zero comes at a crucial time for the government’s commitment to the climate crisis.
As Boris Johnson has been embroiled in scandal over Downing Street parties and sleaze allegations, rival camps have sought to distance themselves from Johnson’s green goals, in order to court the right-wing of the Tory party, making the net-zero effort a major flashpoint.
When Lord Frost resigned recently, he let it be known that the net-zero agenda was one of his top areas of disagreement with Johnson, alongside Brexit policy.
The Guardian, in a previous report, revealed that there is a rift between the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and Johnson over the climate issue, while the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, pointedly omitted even to mention November’s Cop26 – the biggest diplomatic event held on British soil – in her first foreign policy speech earlier this month.
But Sharma said the net-zero strategy was key to the government’s future. “(The question) for every economy is how you do that [shift to a low-carbon footing], not just one or two sectors, but across the whole of the economy. The issue now is that we push on and deliver on that particular [net zero] strategy itself. That’s what we will be judged on.”
“There has been a clear change in approach from the corporate sector. They have demonstrated their understanding that green growth is the future, and net-zero is a big opportunity,” Sharma told The Guardian.
Sharma pointed out that reactions to the outcomes of Cop26 had grown even more positive in the weeks since it closed.
His next task is to ensure that the world’s biggest emitters – including big G20 economies – return to the negotiating table next year with improved and detailed plans on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.