Britain hopes for close working relationship with future Cop hosts Egypt and UAE

UK climate action business champion Andrew Griffith says hard work starts now

Britain is hoping for a close working relationship with Egypt and the UAE – the hosts of Cop27 and Cop28 respectively – as it continues its presidency of UN climate change negotiations until November next year.

Andrew Griffith, the UK climate action business champion, said the real hard work started after Cop26 in Glasgow concluded.

"It was always the case that the hard work started when they folded up the tents and the chairs and then we go forward, and not just the UK presidency, but I hope that we will work very closely with our friends in Egypt, and with the UAE,” he said.

Mr Griffith said the negotiations have come a long way but there is “still a lot to do” and the UK must be “restless and driven” as its presidency continues.

Under the UN rules, the UK will retain responsibility for climate negotiations until the Egyptian government assumes the presidency next November.

It will take responsibility for a year until the UAE takes the reins in November 2023.

At the weekend, Alok Sharma, the UK’s Cop26 president, said the UK will continue to press governments over the next 12 months to urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions year to limit global heating to 1.5ºC.

The UK business community was disappointed by the Cop26 talks because the emissions pledges were insufficient to meet the 2050 goal after a pledge to "phase out" coal became a commitment to "phase down" coal.

However, Mr Sharma insisted the "historic" deal "keeps 1.5ºC within reach" as it was the first climate deal that planned explicitly to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.

Under the Glasgow climate pact, countries were also asked to republish their climate action plans by the end of next year in time for Cop27 at Sharm El Sheikh, with more ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030.

Developed countries were urged to increase the money they give to nations suffering the effects of climate change beyond the current $100 billion annual target.

Mr Griffith said one of the positives to come out of Cop26 was a quickening of the pace needed to achieve climate change goals, largely because of the heavy presence of corporations and financiers at the Glasgow summit

“It was a design principle, to bring business, the ferocious problem solving power of business, to the heart of the Cop," he said.

“And it was also a design principle, to put the climate summit at the heart of the UK’s G7 presidency and I hope as we pass the G7 baton on, and continue to work through the G7, that things like international climate finance initiatives are really central to that.”

While Mr Sharma said the world showed in Glasgow that countries could work together to establish a framework for climate action, the next year must ensure the focus stays on keeping the promises made in the Scottish city.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said while the UK has a strategy for net zero "with all the right bits in", the best thing the UK can do now is to "turn that into real progress that actually reduces emissions" as a " signal to the rest of the world that it's possible to do this".

"So, in the 12 months of this presidency, of course, we have a job to ginger up stronger commitments from those countries that didn't deliver on their 2030 goals, but we also need to demonstrate that that strategy that we've got for the UK is a credible one that is actually moving now into actually delivering real emissions reductions," he said.

Looking to Cop27, Mr Stark said he expected to see the "club of countries and corporates now acting" together on the climate change challenges "to continue as we go towards Sharm el Sheikh".

" I see the template that's been established in Glasgow is that this is now more than just a set of national commitments. Alongside that it's got corporate commitments and finance commitments as well that together point the way to even more rapid progress," he said.

"If that's continued in Sharm El Sheikh, then I think we'll be in a good place."

Updated: November 25th 2021, 5:49 PM