Reports suggest that the UK was absent on Wednesday when a group of countries of which it is normally a leading member made a key statement pledging ambitious action on the climate crisis.
The “high ambition coalition” of countries, which aims to push the world to swifter cuts on greenhouse gas emissions, issued a call for “faster stronger” action on the climate, to cause emissions to peak by 2025, and a plan to put the world on course to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.
However, the UK, which was a founding member of the coalition, was not among the 17 signatories, which included France, Spain, Kenya and Chile. Nor was Rishi Sunak in attendance in New York, when the UN secretary general, António Guterres, welcomed global and civic leaders to discuss the crisis at his climate ambition summit, opening on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.
Instead, the prime minister was hatching a U-turn on the climate with a scope and timing that has left other countries and green experts aghast. Downing Street trailed on Tuesday evening proposals, expected to be unveiled on Friday, to water down key measures on net zero, including pushing back the ban on new diesel and petrol cars, and on new gas boilers.
Sadiq Khan, who is the mayor of London, was said to be the only UK leader speaking at the UN climate ambition summit in New York.
He was quoted as saying “We’re in a climate emergency and the deadly impacts of climate change are here now and we have to act urgently,”. “We have seen record high temperatures in London earlier this month and the hottest ever July. Over the last two years we have experienced unprecedented wildfires and flash floods – destroying homes and livelihoods,”.
He said that “This government’s response flies in the face of common sense and shows they are climate delayers. It beggars belief that not only are they watering down vital commitments, but they are also passing up the opportunity to create green jobs, wealth and lower energy bills – as well as failing to give investors the certainty they need to boost the green economy.”
Recall that Sunak announced earlier this month that he would not attend the UN general assembly, as he was too busy. It was also revealed that if he had gone, he risked being barred from speaking at the climate ambition summit, because only countries that could demonstrate they were implementing stringent emissions plans would be allowed.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.