A coalition of business, trade union and environmental leaders has written to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak calling on them to implement the agreement reached at COP26 last month.
Their letter comes at a key moment when the Government is still working out how to follow up the crucial UN climate talks, and the Climate Change Committee has warned that the Government’s climate policies are not sufficient to meet its targets.
The letter to the PM and Chancellor has been sent by Tony Danker, Director-General of the CBI; Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC; Colin Matthews and Peter Simpson, Co-Chairs of the UK Corporate Leaders’ Group; Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF UK; Shaun Spiers, Executive Director of the Green Alliance; and Shane Tomlinson, Acting head of the green think tank E3G.
The letter notes that the Glasgow Climate Pact calls on all countries to accelerate climate action and policy implementation and to strengthen national emissions reduction targets by COP27 in November next year. It reminds the PM and Chancellor that these instructions cannot just be for other countries: as the continuing COP Presidency for the next year the UK government must lead by example and implement them at home.
The letter therefore calls for a new cross-governmental initiative to review how current policies could be implemented more quickly and what new policies could accelerate action. This should be led by both the Prime Minister’s Office and by Alok Sharma, the COP26 President, it says. All government departments should be involved, with the Treasury and Foreign Office singled out as key participants.
Among policy areas the letter proposes for further policy development are:
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said:
“Our call for a significant increase in public investment in green tech and industry will safeguard jobs in Britain’s industrial heartlands. And it will help create good quality new jobs across the UK too. It’s where the levelling up agenda and our net zero targets meet - an opportunity to put Britain on a path to greater regional equality and prosperity for working people.”
Tony Danker, Director-General of the CBI, said:
“The UK Presidency played a crucial role in securing progress at COP26 through the Glasgow Climate Pact. But that was the starting pistol, not the finish line. The UK government must build on this momentum, focusing on accelerated action and implementation of our ambitious domestic climate goals. This will require alignment of all government departments and unprecedented collaboration with businesses, who are ready with the investment and innovation to make commitments a reality.”
Colin Matthews, Chairman of EDF in the UK and Co-Chair of the UK Corporate Leaders’ Group said:
“UK business is behind Net Zero. Private sector investment is accelerating the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels and is developing new low carbon technologies to decarbonise the rest of the economy. Government can grow business confidence for long term investment in Net Zero by aligning its plans with the ambitious Glasgow Climate Pact, and clarifying future policy direction and targets for firms as soon as possible.”
Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water and Co-Chair of the UK Corporate Leaders’ Group, said:
“Urgent action is required to build on the success of the Glasgow Climate Pact. At COP26 businesses demonstrated what they are already doing to deliver net zero. We can do even more, together, by challenging existing policy against the ambitions set out in the Glasgow Pact.”
Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF UK, said:
“Without urgent action to reverse nature loss and slash emissions from polluting fossil fuels, we risk climate catastrophe. The UK continues to hold the COP Presidency and the UK Government has a responsibility to show international leadership by keeping its climate and nature promises. Adopting a net zero test for UK government spending, setting out a decarbonisation strategy to put agriculture and land use on a sustainable footing, and strengthening measures to eliminate deforestation from UK supply chains are all vital steps the UK Government must now take, to ensure it delivers on its all-important climate and nature goals.”
Shaun Spiers, Executive Director of the Green Alliance, said:
“COP26 moved the dial, but we can’t afford to just pat ourselves on the back and say job done. The Glasgow summit was just the start of our hosting responsibilities. The government must now put in place a clear, funded plan to deliver on its commitments, and give Alok Sharma the tools to drive action in the run-up to COP27.”
Shane Tomlinson, Acting Chief Executive of E3G, said:
“As COP President the UK will remain at the centre of global climate diplomacy until COP27 in Egypt next year. Implementing the Glasgow Climate Pact will depend on the UK’s credibility on the world stage, which requires us to deliver on our promises at home."
The full letter to the Prime Minister is below:
Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing St
London SW1 2AA
Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
London SW1A 2HQ
3 December 2021
Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor
We congratulate the Government on the outcome of COP26. The Glasgow Climate Pact is an important step on the road to limiting the average global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and to supporting vulnerable countries in adapting to the terrible climate change they are already experiencing.
But, as you know, COP26 is just the start of this process. The Pact emphasises the urgent need for Parties
“to increase their efforts to collectively reduce emissions through accelerated action and implementation of domestic mitigation measures”
and requests them
“to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022.”
As the Presidency of the COP for the coming year, and in view of the urgency of the climate challenge, it is important that these clauses in the Glasgow Climate Pact are seen to apply to the UK as well as to other countries. The UK has strong and legally binding emissions reduction targets for 2030, and the recent Net Zero Strategy set out the government’s pathways aimed at meeting them. As the Climate Change Committee has noted, it is important we continue to show global leadership in setting out how the UK intends to increase its own efforts through accelerated action and implementation of domestic emissions reduction measures.
We believe the Government should therefore establish a new cross-government initiative to review how current policies could be implemented more quickly and what new policies could accelerate action.
Such an initiative should involve all government departments, including the Treasury and Foreign Office, and benefit from the leadership of the Prime Minister’s Office and of the COP26 President. If the review is completed by spring 2021 decisions could be made in time for the UK to submit a new and strengthened Nationally Determined Contribution at COP27 in November 2022, as required by the Glasgow Climate Pact.
We believe the new initiative could develop accelerated action and increased implementation by the UK in the following areas, among others:
There is a huge opportunity for the UK to seize in showing continuing leadership of the global effort to address the climate emergency. As the Glasgow Climate Pact demands, we must use the remainder of our Presidency to push for accelerated action and implementation, leading by example.
Director-General, Confederation of British Industry
General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
Chairman of EDF in the UK and Co-Chair, UK Corporate Leaders’ Group
Chief Executive, Anglian Water and Co-Chair, UK Corporate Leaders’ Group
Chief Executive, WWF-UK
Executive Director, Green Alliance
Acting Chief Executive, E3G
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