UK Government Warned to Act Faster on Climate Pledges

UK Government Warned to Act Faster on Climate Pledges

London – The UK government has been urged to accelerate its climate action by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) after “mixed messages” at the COP28 summit.

While progress has been made on power sector emissions, other sources must cut four times faster to meet the UK’s Paris Agreement goal of a 68% emissions cut by 2030, the CCC said today.

Interim chair Piers Forster said rapid fossil fuel phase-out is needed “to get back on track” for 2030. The UK could demonstrate global leadership on climate, he added.

The watchdog summarised COP28 outcomes in a report published Tuesday. The summit saw historic agreement to transition from fossil fuels, albeit weaker than hoped.

Civil society and countries criticised the UK’s stance. PM Rishi Sunak briefly attended and held few meetings. His pre-COP net zero U-turn cast a shadow.

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In measured terms, the CCC said the UK maintained a “strong presence” but its reputation suffered from “mixed messages” on new fossil fuel projects and Sunak’s softened climate rhetoric. It urged continued COP visibility and domestic ambition to restore UK standing.

In September, Sunak rolled back policies including the petrol/diesel vehicle phase-out and issued new North Sea drilling licences, sparking international dismay.

At COP28, the UK pushed fossil fuel phase-out while insisting oil and gas are central in its energy mix for decades. It also approved a new coal mine as other countries move to quit coal.

Greenpeace UK’s Rebecca Newsom said the CCC “really spells out” the government’s climate hypocrisy. She urged ending new oil/gas and making fossil fuel firms pay for urgent climate action at home and abroad.

At COP28, a transition from fossil fuels was agreed, the first UN climate conference explicit commitment. But no timeframe or details were given. The “energy systems” wording was called ambiguous.

COP29 will be held in Azerbaijan, heavily oil/gas dependent. Activists fear backsliding from producers on COP28 fossil fuel commitments.

A government spokesperson welcomed CCC’s recognition of the UK’s “pivotal” COP28 role and climate diplomacy strength. The UK is delivering a fossil fuel transition deal and contributing to loss/damage funds, they added.

The government also highlighted the UK’s climate leader status – the first major economy to halve emissions, world-leading targets, renewable energy now 40% of power.

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