UK PM Boris Johnson calls on richest nations to invest in climate action

Aditi Khanna
·4-min read

London, Apr 22 (PTI) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday said that he is confident that the world can build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic if it 'builds back greener' and that the richer nations of the world would need to take the lead on investments.

Addressing the US-led Leaders Summit on Climate to mark Earth Day virtually, Johnson pointed to the UK's credentials as the first country to pass legislation for net zero and that it was halfway to its target of achieving net zero carbon emissions.

He flagged a speeding up of these goals ahead of the UK's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November by legislating to deliver 78 per cent of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035.

“We can do this together across the world. It’s going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the USD 100 billion commitment that they already made in 2009 and I stress how important that is,” said Johnson.

“We have carbon emissions lower than at any point since the 19th century, we’re ending support for fossil fuels overseas and doubling our international climate finance. We’re actually speeding up because we see the obligations for developed countries to do more, we’re legislating to deliver 78 per cent of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035,” he said.

“As host of COP26, we want to see similar ambitions around the world and we’re working with everybody, from the smallest nations to the biggest emitters to secure commitments that will keep change to within 1.5 degrees,” he added.

Forty global leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took part in the summit led by US President Joe Biden. It aims to secure commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, shifting to renewable energy and climate finance for developing countries.

Biden announced an American pledge to cut US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

“If we actually want to stop climate change, then this must be the year in which we get serious about doing so. Because the 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure,” said Johnson.

As COP President this year, the UK says it is leading international efforts to secure ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets in line with reaching net zero by the middle of the century, backed up by clear action plans and policy changes such as phasing out coal. The UK will set out its Net Zero Strategy with policies to hit its new targets ahead of COP26.

More than 120 countries have made net zero commitments to date, covering 65 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than triple the 20 per cent covered when the UK took over the COP Presidency in December 2019.

Downing Street said the UK government has also committed 11.6 billion pounds in international climate finance to support developing countries over the next five years. Ahead of COP26, it is asking donor countries to deliver on their commitment to secure USD 100 billion of public finance, as well as working with businesses to leverage private finance and expertise to ensure all countries can address climate change and deal with its impacts.

Johnson noted: “To do these things we’ve got to be constantly original and optimistic about new technology and new solutions whether that’s crops that are super-resistant to drought or more accurate weather forecasts like those we hope to see from the UK’s new Met Office GBP 1.2-billion supercomputer that we’re investing in.

“I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy. There is obviously going to be a political challenge… it’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive politically correct green act of ‘bunny hugging’ or however you want to put it.” The US-hosted two-day Climate Leaders Summit is seen as building momentum on the road to the COP Biodiversity Summit in Kunming, China, in October and the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. PTI AK RS AKJ RS