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The Countdown to Glasgow's COP26 Part 2

At the Youth4Climate summit, in Milan, Italy ahead of the COP26 Summit, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg excoriated global leaders over their ‘promises’ to tackle the climate emergency. She quoted statements from global leaders, including Boris Johnson’s “Build Back better”, dismissing them as “Blah, Blah, Blah”.

Thunberg directly targeted world leaders’ net zero by 2050 targets and greenwashing stating “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great, but few have led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises”.

Carbon emissions are on track to rise by 16% by 2030, according to the UN, rather than fall by a half, which is needed to keep global surface temperatures from rising above the agreed limit of 1.5°C. Thunberg now urges world leaders to utilise the COP26 Summit, in Glasgow this November, as the point to start “taking drastic action”.

UK’s electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035

Boris Johnson has said all the UK's electricity is going to come from clean energy sources by 2035. The commitment comes ahead of the COP26 Summit to try and influence other key nations to take action.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester earlier this month, the Prime Minister said this could be achieved through advances in wind power and other renewable sources. The shift will play a huge role in the UK hitting it’s 78% cut to carbon emissions by 2035.

However, green groups and industry have warned that the UK is currently behind schedule to meet this target due to issues with the planning system, infrastructure and finances.

Greenpeace Cambo Protest

Greenpeace stages Cambo oilfield protest outside Downing Street with oil-splattered statue of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Campaigners chained themselves to an oil-splattered statue of Boris Johnson outside Downing Street to protest against the controversial drilling site in early October. Greenpeace are calling for a stop to the Government’s reliance on oil ahead of COP26 and urge Mr Johnson not to sign off on a new drilling permit for Cambo.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer opposes the oilfield and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has called for the UK government to reassess the oilfield plan. Pressure from all angles has been targeted at the Government as it states it wants to reduce its use of fossil fuels but are still rubber-stamping licenses as there is a “need for oil and gas”.

John Sauven, Executive Director at Greenpeace said “The Cambo oilfield will produce emissions equivalent of up to 18 coal plants running for a year.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about the climate emergency and hopes to host a successful climate summit at COP26, the Cambo oilfield plans need to be scrapped”.

Royals and Barack Obama to attend COP26

Former US President Barack Obama has confirmed he will attend COP26. He will join current president Joe Biden and more than 120 heads of state at the summit.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William will all also attend the summit in the hope to drum up support for the climate emergency.

Several pivotal heads of state are yet to confirm or will not attend the conference. These include: China’s Xi Jinping (likely to appear via video), Pope Francis, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador the President of Mexico. These are all key nations / players who will play a key role in tackling the climate emergency due to their heavy reliance on fossil fuels. It will be a huge blow for the conference not to have these ‘key players’ sat at the discussion table.

Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener

On Thursday 19th October, just 12 days before COP26, the UK Government has released its Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener. The strategy sets out the UK’s plan to achieving its net zero goal by 2050 aiming to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a big push towards electric vehicles being made in the UK as well as investing £620 million in grants for electric vehicles (EV) and EV chargers. Car makers will be mandated to sell a proportion of EV each year and £350 million has been promised to help the automotive supply chains move to electric.

Part of the plan includes a new target for all heating system installations to be low carbon by 2035. A 450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme will be used to reach that target and £5,000 grants will be available to households in England Wales to replace their gas boilers with heat pumps. Grants will be available from April 2022.

Onshore wind energy also features in the strategy stating if we are to achieve the governments most ambitious target CB6 that the sustained increase of land based renewables is pivotal.

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