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Britain ‘nowhere near’ meeting climate targets, official report on Cop26 summit finds

BRITAIN still doesn’t have the right measures in place to meet its pledges on tackling the climate emergency, experts warned today in a damning assessment of the Cop26 summit.

Climate Change Committee chief executive Chris Stark said that the government “is nowhere near achieving current targets” on emissions, and that policies being pursued by governments around the world don’t come “close to” goals on global warming.

In its report on last month’s summit in Glasgow, the independent public body warned that the next 12 months are now “critical” for climate action and that Britain must urgently deliver planned measures to cut emissions.

The committee found that, at current rates, Britain will be contributing to a disastrous temperature rise of 2.7°C by the start of the next century.

The global conference achieved some strengthening of targets on climate action, but the world is still falling well short of what is needed to limit temperature rises to well below 2°C, or to 1.5°C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, as was agreed in the 2015 Paris Accords.

The Glasgow pact asks countries to come back with more ambitious targets by next year in order to keep the 1.5°C goal alive.

In its report, the committee warned that the British government should focus on meeting its current promises rather than increasing its ambition and falling short in the delivery.

“The ultimate success of the Glasgow climate pact will be measured by climate risks averted, not words on a page,” committee chairman Lord Deben said.

Campaign Against Climate Change campaigns co-ordinator Claire James said that the government has faced warnings for years over the gap between climate ambition and the implementation of policies to actually meet targets.

“Cop26 didn’t provide the commitment that we need, simply because the governments of rich countries generally prefer platitudes and long-term targets to immediate action,” she said.

“Campaigners out on the streets in Glasgow were clear about the injustice taking place in negotiating halls — they left Cop26 determined to hold governments to account for inaction and delay in the face of the escalating crisis.”

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, said the report is a sober warning about government greenwash.

He called on the Tories to end their delay and double-talk on the climate, and to focus on delivering real action instead.

“It must send the right signal internationally by cancelling the Cumbria coal mine and proposed Cambo oil field, which fly in the face of our climate lectures to the rest of the world,” he added.

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer called for an end to fossil fuel expansion, a carbon tax to make polluters pay, and greater investment in public transport. 

She said that the government must also transfer £27 billion earmarked for road-building over to home insulation, and institute a massive programme of retrofitting to make homes more energy efficient. 

“The government is making ambitious promises on carbon reductions but this is largely hot air,” she charged.

“The public is demanding much greater action. The Climate Change Committee’s report … makes clear the urgent need to close the gap between ambition and delivery.”

In a statement, the government claimed that it is a world leader on climate change and that its targets are consistent with climate goals, pointing to the committee’s claim that its net-zero strategy is “a strong foundation for delivery.”

The committee warned that the strategy needs to be implemented quickly, however, and upon the document’s release earlier this year Mr Miliband warned that it has “nothing like the commitment we believe is required.”

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