The high stakes of Cop26

Tackling climate change necessitates collaboration and we must ensure we leave no country behind

Child activists join a march through Westminster during a "climate strike" demonstration, part of the global 'Fridays for Future' movement led by Swedish teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg, in London on September 24. AP
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This week the world will gather in Glasgow. The stakes could not be higher. Climate change is the global priority. It affects all of us and requires all of us – countries, cities, businesses and citizens – to act. Scientists are explicit: we need urgent, decisive action from around the world to change the course of history for the better.

The UK and the UAE are already leading global action to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C this century. Tackling climate change is not a choice between cleaning up our environment and growing our economies. Clean growth presents the most significant economic growth opportunity of the 21st century. The costs of renewables and other low carbon technology have fallen far more than anticipated. Solar and wind are already cheaper than coal power in two thirds of the world and it is predicted that renewables will undercut commissioned coal and gas almost everywhere by 2030. Global trade in low-carbon goods and services is expected to grow from £150 billion in 2015 to between £2.8 trillion and £5.1tn in 2050.

As the first Gulf state and member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to make an ambitious commitment to net zero by 2050, the UAE’s leadership have recognised that sustainable economic diversification is essential for building a more prosperous, healthier and resilient country. Investment in innovation, jobs and skills is at the heart of net zero. The UAE’s bid for the Cop28 Presidency and hosting of the International Renewable Energy Agency meet, demonstrate their willingness to lead in confronting climate change and promoting renewable energy.

We, in the UK, are proud to lead the world in rapid decarbonisation. We want to build back better from the pandemic by building back greener. We have achieved a lot on our road to net zero already. Since 1990 the UK has almost halved our greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonising faster than any other G7 country whilst growing our economy by 78 per cent. We are also striving to slash greenhouse emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 (based on 1990 levels) and for the first time we have included aviation and shipping into this legally binding target.

The UK's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and our Net Zero Strategy will harness innovation to level up the UK, by supporting up to 440,000 jobs by 2030. We see the UAE as a key partner in our own journey, through existing investments in wind farms, electric charging infrastructure, and with more targeted investment being planned through the UK-UAE Sovereign Investment Partnership.

Tackling climate change necessitates collaboration and we must ensure we leave no country behind. The UK is doubling its international climate finance to help developing nations to £11.6bn over the period 2021- 2025. The UK is also pledging £50 million in international climate finance investment into a new Clean Energy Innovation Facility to accelerate innovative clean energy technologies such as energy storage in developing countries.

The two-week Cop26 programme kicks off with a World Leaders’ Summit (1-2 November), hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The conference aims to agree ambitious actions to reduce emissions, scale up adaptation to the impacts of climate change and mobilise climate finance, to collectively signal a global commitment to keeping alive the Paris Agreement pledge of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2°C, and as close as possible to 1.5°C.

In 2015, the momentous Cop21 in Paris promised. In 2021, Cop26 in Glasgow must deliver. It is vital that the negotiations inside the conference centre reflect the reality outside.

As Alok Sharma, Cop26 President, said: “Cop26 is not a photo-op or a talking shop. It must be the forum where we put the world on track to deliver on climate.” To this end, we welcome the UAE delegation, led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, to Glasgow and we look forward to hearing the UAE’s announcements for increased ambition and international co-operation.

To deliver on the Paris Agreement, we must decarbonise the global economy three to five time faster over the coming decade than we have over the past two decades, and achieve a similar increase in pace in building resilience. For this we need both stronger national action, and stronger international collaboration, focused on the practical challenges we all share.

Tackling climate change is both a challenge and an opportunity. The UK and UAE’s longstanding partnership will be a key foundation as we work hand-in-hand to build back better and greener together and encourage and enable other countries to follow suit.

Published: November 1st 2021, 4:00 AM
Patrick Moody

Patrick Moody

Patrick Moody is Britain's ambassador to the UAE