Prime Minister to announce plans for joint UK-UN 'launchpad' event in December aimed at encouraging nations to enhance Paris Agreement commitments ahead of next year's COP26 Summit in Glasgow
Boris Johnson will tomorrow warn the world that it "cannot let climate action become another victim of the coronavirus", as he issues his clearest call yet for governments around the world to raise their climate commitments in line with the Paris Agreement ahead of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow next year.
The Prime Minister is set to address nations during a virtual UN Climate Action Roundtable hosted by Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday, where he is expected to announce plans for a joint UK-UN "launchpad" summit in December where countries would be expected to unveil enhanced climate pledges.
The event on 12 December will mark five years since the landmark climate accord was brokered at the COP21 UN climate summit in Paris, and is envisaged as an opportunity for nations to announce "genuinely transformational net zero targets and bold climate finance pledges", according to Downing Street.
In addition, a series of virtual dialogues are set to take place across the world in November aimed at driving action towards net zero from cities and states, businesses and civil society, where discussions are expected to focus on key areas such as transport, nature, and energy, the government said.
Under the Paris Agreement countries were required to come forward with updated national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the UN jargon, before the end of the year.
However, following the postponement of the COP26 Summit by a year in response to the on-going pandemic the UN signalled over the summer that countries would be given until early 2021 to submit new plans.
Despite hosting the crucial UN climate summit in Glasgow next year, the UK is among those countries that are yet to come forward with its own enhanced contribution to the Paris Agreement goals, although ministers have been promising in recent months that the government will do so "well ahead" of COP26.
Tomorrow, however, Johnson is expected to promise that "the UK will lead by example", with the upcoming December event set to kick-off a year of action in the run up to COP26 in November 2021. The timing of the new event will fuel hopes the UK could come forward with its own NDC, backed by a raft of new decarbonisation policies, before the end of the year.
"As the world continues to deal with coronavirus we must look ahead to how we will rebuild, and how we can seize the opportunity to build back better," Johnson is expected to tell world leaders tomorrow. "The UK will lead by example, keeping the environment on the global agenda and serving as a launch pad for a global green industrial revolution."
But he will also stress that all countries need to enhance their own climate efforts. "No one country can turn the tide - it would be akin to bailing out a liner with a single bucket," Johnson will say. "We cannot let climate action become another victim of coronavirus. Let us be the leaders who secure the very health of the planet for our children, grandchildren and generations to come."
Johnson is also set to give the UK's annual address to the UN General Assembly on Saturday, and is expected to use the platform to provide more details on preparations for COP26, as well as further reiterate the government's commitment to climate action.
The scheduled speeches follow China's landmark announcement yesterday that the world's highest emitting economy is aiming to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, potentially offering a major boost to efforts to convince other nations to increase their goals.
Present NDC commitments from the near-190 parties to have ratified the Paris accord are expected to result in global warming well in excess of 3C - and perhaps even 4C - by the end of the century, with catastrophic implications for the planet's climate and economy.
As such, the Paris Agreement requires countries to every five years ramp up their contributions to the accord's headline average temperature goals of 1.5C or 'well below' 2C above pre-industrial times.
But with the Covid-19 pandemic having wrought devastation to the global economy, forcing governments and businesses to readjust their priorities, the UK as COP26 host is under significant pressure to ensure a successful outcome from the talks in Glasgow next year, particularly after last year's summit in Madrid ended in stalemate over a number of key outstanding issues.
Alok Sharma, the UK's Secretary of State for Business, has been handed the crucial role of COP26 President, and in a statement today he said "the eyes of the world will be on COP26 when the UK hosts it in November next year".
"But tackling climate change cannot wait," he said. "That's why we are setting the stage now with a call to all those who are ready to step forward this December and set out bold new NDCs for a clean and prosperous future. The responsibility to act lies with each of us and together we can drive forward action."
Domestically, however, there is growing frustration at the lack of detailed plans from the government for decarbonising crucial areas of the economy such as heating, transport, energy and agriculture in line with the UK's statutory 2050 net zero target. Businesses are also concerned that the UK could lose out as competition in emerging clean tech industries intensifies, especially after France, Germany, and others announced major green stimulus programmes this summer.
A host of promised policy frameworks such as the Energy White Paper, Transport Decarbonisation Plan and National Infrastructure Strategy have long been in the works, but hopes are high these could see the light of day before the end of 2020, potentially alongside an Autumn Budget that would itself build on the government's promise to engineer a 'green recovery'.
The PM is widely tipped to be preparing a major speech for the autumn on how the government intends to accelerate the UK's transition to net zero emissions and deliver its much-touted green recovery.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Climate Change is also set to publish its hotly-anticipated advice on the sixth carbon budget on 9 December, three days ahead of the special UK-UN "launchpad" summit announced by the PM today, promising a hugely eventful autumn ahead for the green economy.
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