The world needs to tackle climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies (alongside economic and social emergencies that have been exacerbated by COVID-19).
Warning signs for the UN Climate Change Conference (UNCCC or COP26) are appearing that include India, as the next biggest emitter, being ‘reluctant’ to set a net zero ‘date’ and likely to cite developed countries’ failure to fulfil their pre-2020 financial commitments and the UK failing on its own plan to reach net zero.
Clean Air in London’s (CAL’s) analysis of UK and other public statements on COP26 in the last two months and a ground-breaking analysis of over six million tweets and 25 million ‘engagements’ globally over the last year about air pollution and/or COP26 shows that public discussion around COP26 is focused on vague generalisations not the hard realities of air pollution, biodiversity, cities, finance, health, justice etc.
CAL is concerned that the UK government has not grasped the magnitude of its responsibility as the COP26 host and is ‘target fixated’ on simply achieving ‘better’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) from Member States rather than focusing on the much more complex requirement to limit global warming to between 1.5c and 2.0c. The last of these will require success in many areas (such as Article 6 and climate finance).
The UK Government must put its own ‘house in order’, engage all stakeholders and address fully all the critical issues if COP26 is to be a success.
Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said:
“Clean Air in London applauds Alok Sharma’s leadership ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, as COP26 President Designate, but is concerned by warning signs of the challenges ahead and the Government’s failure to put its own house in order.”
Useful links and resources
1. Letter to Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, dated 9 May 2021 enclosing Clean Air in London’s 100 page two-part report on ‘Climate diplomacy and COP26’
2. Alok Sharma’s speech on 14 May 2021 i.e. setting the scene with six months to go
G7 Climate and environment ministers on 21 May 2021
4. Country comments
India (1 April 2021)