Cop26 agreement vital as world climate at 'critical point', says UK minister

Plea for action as Canada records highest temperature to date

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 13: Activist hold a demonstration marking the delayed COP26 UN climate negotiations  on November 13, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. The 26th United Nations Climate Change conference would have taken place this month, but was delayed for a year due to the covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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The world is at a “critical point” for climate change, Britain's international trade minister Graham Stuart said on Tuesday.

This makes it vital that a global agreement is struck at the upcoming Cop 26 summit, he told the Climate Innovation Forum in London.

Mr Stuart said the changing climate would force policy makers and investors to work in tandem to address the threat and ensure temperature increases do not exceed 2°C, to prevent dangerous global warming.

The plea for action comes as Canada this week recorded its highest temperature to date of 46°C and the Pakistan city of Jacobabad recorded highs of more than 52°C, a threshold hotter than the human body can withstand.

There was also a plea for countries to embrace wind energy technology to help drive down costs, making it affordable for developing countries.

“We are at a critical point and we need immediate progress in ensuring that mean temperatures don't rise by more than two degrees,” Mr Stuart said. “We have a great responsibility and with Britain hosting the event in November we really have to optimise its impact.”

The number of countries and organisations aiming for carbon net zero is approaching 70 per cent of global gross domestic product. While that is “great news”, the minister for exports said “academia, businesses and policymakers from all over the world need to come together to make sure that we don't lose momentum because global problems require global solutions”.

A key element in reducing fossil fuel emissions is to introduce wind farms worldwide. With Britain becoming a major investor, the price per megawatt hour for wind energy in the UK has gone from £120 ($167) in 2015 to less than £40 four years later.

“It is deliverable, it is affordable and the more that we work together and create common frameworks, common actions, the faster we will be able to drive that cost down,” said Mr Stuart. “Even from a purely economic basis, you want to be on board as this is where technology is going and it's where the private investment’s going.”

He said that it was Britain’s ambition to become “the world's number one centre for green technology and finance” that would lay the foundations for “green fuel prosperity”.

A resident walks through a temporary misting station on Abbott Street during a heatwave in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on June 28.  The heat is expected to continue for several days in some parts of British Columbia, according to weather warnings from the government. Photographer: Trevor Hagan / Bloomberg

Gina Hall, of the Carbon Trust, which helps business acquire sustainable energy, said Britain’s wind energy revolution was an “innovative model” that could be copied globally. “The more you can move down that economy of scale curve, like we saw with solar, the more everyone benefits from new technologies.”

She also said it was vital that China, one of the biggest users of fossil fuels, “shows up” at Glasgow. “By that I mean make sure the negotiators from key Chinese industries show up, willing to put a meaningful price on carbon, willing to tackle hard to decarbonize industries, because they're big investors and big builders”.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference - Cop26 - will be held in Scotland from October 31 to November 12.

Updated: June 29, 2021, 4:50 PM