A coalition of top business groups, unions, and environmental leaders have written a letter to Boris Johnson calling for a renewed cross-government push to strengthen the UK’s national climate action plan in support of the Glasgow Climate Pact

A coalition of business groups, trade unions, and environmental campaigners are today calling on the Prime Minister to set up a cross-government initiative to oversee the strengthening of the UK’s emissions targets in support of the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak today received a letter signed by representatives from a host of leading organisations, including the CBI, the TUC, and WWF-UK, urging the government to continue to show global leadership in accelerating the UK’s decarbonisation efforts in line with the goals of the Glasgow Climate Pact, which the government helped broker at last month’s COP26 Climate Summit.  

The Pact called on signatories to revisit and strengthen their current emissions targets laid out in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) action plans they have submitted to the UN to bring them into line with a 1.5C warming trajectory ahead of the COP27 Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Egypt in November 2022.

The emissions reduction pledges contained in current NDCs put the world on track for an estimated 2.4C of warming, assuming the targets are met. As such, the UK hosts were only able to claim that the COP26 Climate Summit succeeded in its goal of keeping the ‘1.5C goal contained in the Paris Agreement “alive” by securing an agreement from countries that decarbonisation plans could be strengthened well ahead of the next scheduled review of national plans in 2025.

However, it remains unclear if countries will strengthen their NDCs ahead of COP27 as requested or whether they will argue that their plans are already sufficiently ambitious. Several major economies, including Australia and the EU, have already signalled they do not currently intend to revisit their NDCs in the next year.

As such, today’s letter calls on the UK government to set a precedent for the rest of the world by setting up a new cross-government initiative that would require all government departments to review climate policies over the coming months in time to submit a strengthened NDC by the end of the next year.

The letter concludes: “There is a huge opportunity for the UK to seize in showing continuing leadership of the global effort to address the climate emergency. As the Glasgow Climate Pact demands, we must use the remainder of our Presidency to push for accelerated action and implementation, leading by example.”

The signatories of the letter suggest that all existing climate policy goals and announced initiatives should be reviewed to see how they can be accelerated and that all new policies should be examined against a ‘Net Zero Test’ to ensure they are compatible with a 1.5C warming goal.

The cross-government initiative should also review policies to help accelerate financing and support for developing countries and boost the UK’s adaption and resilience measures.

In response to the letter, a government spokesperson declined to be drawn on whether the UK would strengthen its NDC. “As recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee, the UK is a world-leader on tackling climate change having decarbonised faster than any other G7 country over the past few decades,” they said. “The UK’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution is also one of the most ambitious in the world and we were the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to climate change by 2050.

“We know we need action to match this ambition, which is why our Net Zero Strategy sets out specific, detailed measures we will take to transition to a low carbon economy, including helping businesses and consumers to move to clean and more secure, home-grown power, supporting hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs and leveraging up to £90bn of private investment by 2030.”

However, Tony Danker, director general of the CBI, who signed the letter, said that having played a “crucial role in securing progress at Cop26 through the Glasgow Climate Pact” the government had a responsibility to do everything it can to encourage as many countries as possible to strengthen their NDCs.

“[The Glasgow Climate Pact] was the starting pistol, not the finish line,” he said. “The UK government must build on this momentum, focusing on accelerated action and implementation of our ambitious domestic climate goals.

“This will require alignment of all government departments and unprecedented collaboration with businesses, who are ready with the investment and innovation to make commitments a reality.”

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