Limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels is possible following COP26, but only if all new mid-century net-zero targets are delivered alongside national 2030 emissions goals.
That is the conclusion of the Climate Change Committee's (CCC) new independent assessment of COP26, which warns that current climate policies still “do not come close” to what is required.
The UK government's official advisors said that only “concrete steps” by 2030 will close the gap between ambition and real-world delivery, with global temperatures still set to rise by around 2.7°C.
It has published a series of new recommendations for action at home and internationally, arguing that the next 12 months will be “crucial” in the run up to next year's summit in Egypt.
“The UK must not walk away after COP26,” said CCC chair, Lord Deben. “Glasgow was a step forward in global efforts to address climate change, including a genuine increase in ambition to reduce emissions worldwide.
“We also saw important technical advances, with new rules agreed for reporting emissions and on international carbon trading, and multiple initiatives and sector deals. This is real and welcome progress, but success depends on what happens now.
“The next year is critical for climate action in the UK and internationally. At home, we need to walk the talk and urgently deliver actions in the Net Zero Strategy.
“Globally, the UK must continue to encourage stronger action on climate and insist on rapid emissions reductions and stronger adaptation through all diplomatic channels.”
The CCC recommends that the UK:
- Focus on strengthening delivery of its Net Zero Strategy, including a robust plan to tackle emissions from agriculture and land
- Initiate a review of the role of the tax system in delivering net zero, including the role of tax in achieving a higher and more consistent carbon price across the economy
- Tackle its wider carbon footprint by introducing stronger product standards applied equally at home and to imported goods, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and trade levers, and encouragement of stronger corporate actions to decarbonise supply chains
- Strengthen its NDC prior to COP27 by making it legally-binding, clarifying that emissions targets will be met without use of offsets, confirming a limited role only for CO2 removal, and including sector targets from the new Net Zero Strategy.
The CCC also said that the UK must maintain its strong COP team with high-level leadership throughout the next 12 months, and that the country has an important role in putting the completed Paris rules into action
Moreover, key climate finance commitments made at Glasgow must also be delivered transparently, including a doubling of funding for adaptation, establishing a constructive dialogue on loss and damage, and restoring its commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid as soon as possible.
“The ultimate success of the Glasgow Climate Pact will be measured in climate risks averted, not words on a page,” Lord Deben added.
The CCC will publish a comprehensive assessment of UK progress in summer 2022.
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