UK to set out radical climate change targets ahead of Cop26

Boris Johnson will pledge 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035

WALLASEY, ENGLAND - MAY 23:  The sun sets behind the wind turbines of Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea on May 23, 2018 in Wallasey, England.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce significant cuts to carbon emissions ahead of the Cop26 climate change summit in November.

Mr Johnson will pledge to cut UK emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, with new legislation affecting shipping and aviation.

An announcement is expected ahead of a major climate summit hosted by the US on Thursday, when President Joe Biden is due to set out his environmental plans.

Britain’s new target marks a significant step forward on the previous aim to cut emissions by 68 per cent by 2030, which was one of the most ambitious targets among advanced economies.

Britain says its carbon emissions peaked in 1973 but have fallen by about 38 per cent since 1990, a rate the country claims is the quickest of any major developed economy.
The new 78 per cent cut in emissions would be from those 1990 levels.

As part of the changes, the government will for the first time extend climate law to cover international aviation and shipping.

The target comes ahead of the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November. As host of the UN gathering, Mr Johnson is keen to drum up global support for ambitious emission reduction targets.

The new objective is in line with the government’s Climate Change Committee recommendations.

The committee said it would lead to more electric cars, low-carbon heating, renewable electricity, planting of more trees and a reduction in meat and dairy produce. Aviation is also likely to become more expensive for frequent fliers.

The target – which comes ahead of the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November. As host of the UN gathering, Mr Johnson is keen to drum up global support for ambitious emissions reduction targets.

The UK was one of the first major economies to commit to a net zero emissions target by 2050, and the prime minister is pushing other countries to do the same.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said Britain wanted to be a global leader on climate change.

“We were the first country to enshrine in law in getting to net zero but we realise there are going to be significant challenges and significant investment to get there,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.

The opposition Labour Party said the government needed to “match rhetoric with reality”.

“We need a government that treats the climate emergency as the emergency it is,” Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said.

The Cop26 summit suffered a setback last week when teenage climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg said she would not attend due to concerns over the inequitable distribution of vaccines.

Ms Thunberg, 18, called on Mr Johnson to postpone the event until global inoculation rates increase.

UK ministers want to avoid another delay, with the event already a year late because of the pandemic.

Britain is making contingency plans that include a virtual event or a hybrid model featuring a small number of attendees.

“We are working very hard to ensure that we have an in-person physical Cop26, taking into account of course any Covid-related contingencies,” summit president Alok Sharma said.

“I don’t sense any desire among parties for a further postponement.”