UK to seek commitments 'to keep 1.5°C goal alive' at Cop28

The target is one of five areas in which the UK will seek progress at the upcoming UN climate conference in Dubai

Part of the Lake Titicaca basin near Cojata Island, Bolivia in October as waters fall towards record low levels. Reuters
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The UK will push for progress in five areas at Cop28, including keeping the goal of limiting warming to 1.5ºC alive, the Minister of State for Climate has said.

Graham Stuart told the Commons on Thursday that Britain has “decarbonised more than any major economy on this planet” and has "ambitious plans" to meet net zero.

But he said the world needs to do more to limit the effects of climate change.

During a debate on Thursday on the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai later this month he said: “At Cop28 we want to see progress across five areas.

“First, commitments to keep 1.5ºC alive. Coming out of the global stocktake, we need renewed consensus and increased ambition to keep 1.5ºC in reach.”

Second, he said the UK wants to see “clear progress” on a clean energy future, including a commitment on the phasing out of unabated fossil fuels.

Third, the UK wants to see the reform of international financial institutions “to unlock trillions for global challenges, including development and climate action”.

Fourth, he said the UK is seeking to improve adaptation to climate change by establishing an effective loss and damage fund for countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

“Fifth, we want real progress towards protecting, restoring and sustainably managing nature. For example by making concrete progress on the historic agreement we landed to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030," he said.

Mr Stuart said delivering net zero is not just a matter of "doing the right thing" to avoid harm.

The shadow minister, Kerry McCarthy, told the Commons the world has a “rapidly closing window of opportunity” to secure a liveable and sustainable future.

“And, indeed, in meetings I have had recently with climate scientists, they want to cling to the hope of keeping 1.5ºC alive but they fear that we are now in the territory of 2ºC. And at 2ºC we lose our coral reefs, for example,” she said.

Ms McCarthy said the government is not just stalling on its commitments, but “taking us backwards”, citing the recent postponement of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars by five years.

“There was no reason to roll back [electric vehicles],” she said.

She pointed out that the Climate Change Committee assessed that it was unlikely to meet its target to reduce its emissions by 68 per cent between 1990 and 2030.

She said Labour plans to double onshore wind, treble solar power, and quadruple offshore wind if it comes to power.

She added: “The UN has previously warned the world is on course for a catastrophic 2.8ºC of warming, in part because promises made at Cop26 and Cop27 have not been fulfilled.

"We are running out of last chances but we can avert the very worst of it because we have the knowledge and the tools to do that. It’s just the willpower that’s lacking at the moment.”

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Conservative MP Therese Coffey said Cop28 is going to be “vital recognising the global stocktake that will be happening”.

She said that it mattered that the UK will be there.

“And it matters that we need to bring others with us. And they won’t come with us if we just attack what they do. What have to work with China. We do have to work with other countries.

“But we certainly can’t reduce our ambition. Work with them, bring them along, and basically challenge them. But to bring them along as well.”

Diedre Brock, an SNP MP, said heat records are not just being broken, they are being “shattered” and Cop28 will provide an opportunity to accelerate the loss and damage fund.

“At Cop27 a landmark agreement was reached to establish a dedicated fund aimed explicitly at supporting vulnerable nations and communities grappling with the irreversible effects of climate change.

“That action must be accelerated and the finance offered must be additional to that already available for mitigation and adaptation in the form of grants, not loans.”

Updated: November 16, 2023, 3:28 PM