The Student
Opinion
UK hosting COP26 requires further commitment from government

In one year’s time, the COP26 climate summit, sponsored by the UN and including a collection of over 30,000 delegates, will be coming to Glasgow.

In 11 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we will have reached the point of no return in carbon emissions and our treatment of the planet.

Given the urgency of the situation, it is essential that international agreements on climate breakdown be pushed fervently to become more binding and far-reaching, making this a crucial conference.

Dominic Raab, foreign secretary, has boasted that the choice of Glasgow for the summit is a “vote of confidence” from international partners on our ability to tackle climate change.

However, is it fitting that the UK has won its bid to host the conference, given our consistent history of failure meeting environmental targets?

Granted, the whirlpool-esque morass of Brexit has proved successful in distracting the political elite from the crucial decisions needing to be made, but this is no excuse.

In fact it is more important than ever, as the UK leaves the EU, that we truly commit to transregional and international climate action and regulations.

The EU was one of the few organisations forcing the government to think critically about our emissions compared to other nations’, with the UK often flagging behind.

At the time of writing, the British government is barely meeting its own 2020 target or those from international summits, let alone considering setting the bar for international consensus next year.

International climate action is a frustratingly controversial topic within government, not simply due to the absurdity of limited climate deniers, but mostly because of squabbles over potential disproportionate effects and blame games.

Admittedly, the UK was the first developed economy to commit to examining how it will meet the terms of the Paris Agreement, reviewing targets set by the 2008 Climate Act, but recent history seems to have proven that our government consistently sets unambitious targets, then fails to take the action required to achieve them.

If we truly want to be seen as any kind of global powerhouse, climate action is not simply about hosting summits, sending delegates or making speeches, it is about leading by example and proving that it is possible for higher-income countries to commit to lower emissions.
Climate action is admittedly not easy for governments. It is difficult, and it would be foolish to claim there will be no setbacks. However, put simply, the government is not trying hard enough and it is time to prioritise.

Firstly, the government needs a final push for our EU goal of 15 per cent renewable energy by next year. We may not meet it, but implementing measures now will allow more ambitious long-term goals and set a precedent.

Our government needs to get realistic, despite being led by a man with a record of bungling or backing down on projects related to the environment.

Despite our current seemingly isolationist mindset, all we can hope for is that this time, in Glasgow, diplomacy and concern for the future will win out over petty international disputes.

The UK can truly commit to a low emission future, in concord with as many other nations that can be convinced.
It is far, far too late for prevaricating.

Image: TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay