I am delighted that the United Kingdom will be hosting this conference as it provides an opportunity to drive the world to tackle climate change.
The UK has a proud record on climate action, being the first major economy to legislate to achieve net zero by 2050. The Prime Minister has set the ambitious climate change target into law of reducing emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, compared to 1990 levels. This builds on the existing interim target of reducing emissions by 68 per cent by 2030. In addition, the Government has made a commitment to decarbonise the UK's electricity system by 2035.
While the UK is taking world-leading steps to combat global warming, it is an issue that requires global attention and international action. That is why the UK will bring together world leaders, climate experts, business leaders and citizens from across the globe to agree ambitious action to tackle climate change. Further, the UK will use its Presidency to work to four clear objectives:
- To ask countries to commit to net zero by mid-century, with more ambitious nationally determined contribution targets for 2030;
- To urgently protect and help adapt our communities and natural habitats from the destructive effects of climate change;
- To increase funding to support these aims, making good on the $100 billion annual climate finance goal affirmed through the Paris Agreement; and
- To close off the outstanding elements of the Paris Rulebook, and accelerate delivery of the Paris Goals through collaboration between Governments, Businesses and Civil Society.
Ultimately, these aims will allow the world to keep the prospect of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C alive, thereby avoiding the worst of climate change damage.
Encouraging progress has already been made. For example, when the UK accepted the Presidency, under 30 per cent of the global economy had signed up to a net zero commitment and I am delighted that that figure has now increased to 70 per cent. Around 120 countries are committed to or are developing long-term climate neutral plans. The Government is dedicated to working with all countries to inspire action ahead of and during the conference, including pressing for more countries to set net zero targets.
Regarding the concerns on global temperatures, As you may know, the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015 aims to halt global warming at well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. I was glad that when we hosted the G7 in June 2021, world leaders committed to accelerating efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep the 1.5°C global warming threshold within reach. This is the key aim of COP26. In addition, the G7 committed to protect the planet by supporting a green revolution that creates jobs and cuts emissions. I hope that further global action is achieved at COP26. While the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report found that the planet was warming faster than anticipated, it also highlighted that cutting global emissions, starting immediately, to net zero by mid-century would give a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C in the long-term and help to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
As we get closer to the summit, the Prime Minister has been clear that other countries should follow the UK's lead in tackling climate change, putting forward big commitments and plans including a commitment to net zero by mid-century. In particular, G20 countries should make new Nationally Determined Contributions - setting out interim targets and immediate action to reduce emissions. I welcome that the UK is seeking to gather support and agreement at the conference to eliminate coal dependency; to follow the UK in abandoning UK fossil fuel internal combustion vehicles; for the richest countries who have historically produced so much of the world's carbon to support other countries to go green with funds of $100 billion a year; and finally to plant more trees to restore the world's natural habitat.