The deal secured by Britain at the COP26 environmental summit demonstrated the vital importance of global leadership in tackling the big issues of the day. With negotiations extended for an extra day, we now have a new world agreement on the journey to tackling global climate change. The historic agreement reached is one which the Prime Minister has announced is the ‘beginning of the end’ for coal. It provides a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, to end deforestation and sets out annual checks to see whether countries are making good on their commitments made. It provides extra funding to the countries most affected by immediate impact to their physical environments through flooding, famine and desert climates.
Climate change in a political sense starts with understanding how the actions we have made and will make affect us and our families, our community, our country and other countries now and in the decades to come. The COP26 forum provides an opportunity for countries to come together from different economies, geographies, financial strength, access to science and technology, and wealth of natural resources. At COP26, countries considered what could be done, and then publicly committed to deliver real changes.
In this century, science has allowed us to have a better understanding of the long-term impacts of the decisions we make in our own country and how those affect other parts of the world. There has been exceptional progress in developing, embedding and testing new technology to help move to a post-Carbon age. From wind and solar farms, to new hydrogen and electric battery production. Advances in technology, investment by Government, Budgets and laws will help deliver a new post-Carbon age for the UK.
In COP26 this week, more countries followed the environmental leadership of the UK in committing to a Net-Zero economy. Over 90% of the global economy is now covered by net zero commitments, up from 30% when the UK took on the COP presidency in 2019.That’s a tremendous achievement.
Ultimately, as with any international negotiations, not all countries showed the same ambition as the UK. There is particular disappointment with the behaviour of China and India on coal. But as the Prime Minister himself has said the direction on the phasing out of coal is clear. Every country committed to an historic agreement that will make a real and substantial change, and that includes India and China too. The UK will continue to build back greener and galvanise international action as the UK leads by example ahead of COP27 next year.
The UK provided the location and backdrop for COP26. It led the way in ensuring that we can leave a greener world to the next generation. I look forward to these announcements being put into action and to more progress being made at the next COP meeting of global leaders.