- The UN Climate summit roundtable to start on Thursday 24 September 2020, where PM Johnson will address other world leaders via Video link, as he continues to exercise caution on travelling abroad
- The United Kingdom has a committed carbon neutrality target of 2050. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic this year has caused the country to slow down on several of its commitments
- Several large corporates in the UK have also pitched in with their support to these initiatives and have launched their own efforts to fund and support renewable energy ventures
The high-level UN climate change roundtable, which started on Thursday, 24 December 2020, is being conducted virtually, and most world leaders are expected to address it remotely. The summit this year is crucial as greenhouse emission measures world over have taken a serious beating because of the pandemic. The partial and complete lockdown levels in many parts of the world have caused the global economy to shrink significantly, making it difficult for countries and companies to deliver on their pledge without sinking themselves to the red. PM Johnson was one of the earliest speakers at the summit and is pushing forward for an enhancement in nationally determined contribution levels of attending countries, so to rebuild a greener planet from the ravages of the pandemic. The United Nations in a release on the eve of the summit had stated that though the greenhouse gas levels across the world came down significantly in the past few months, it is sharply climbing up as countries scale back their economies.
UN High- Level Climate Change roundtable 2020
Climate change roundtable is being chaired by the United Nations secretary-general himself. Apart from PM Johnson representing from the United Kingdom, president of Chile Sebastian Piñera would also be addressing the summit. Other than the ten other heads of states from Africa, Asia, small island developing states and the European Union have also been given an invite to speak.
Other than national leaders, heads of global corporations like Microsoft, ITAU- Unibanco and trade and industry body associations like Global Cement and Concrete Association, Climate Action International, and the European Climate Foundation will also present their views at the summit.
The summit is focused on three basic objectives, first to ensure that government, as well as corporate funding contributors, do not falter on the commitments so that valuable work that has already been done on continuing programmes do not get spoiled. The second objective is aligning national recovery/ stimulus plans with climate change plans so as to achieve the objective of 1.5-degree Celsius climate temperature reduction objective. The third objective of this summits is to ensure that the planet and people are protected, and there is just and sustainable recovery.
The position of the UK in terms of its commitment to decarbonize itself
While the UK was a part of the European Union regulatory framework, it had been part of other several environmental regulations been brought in by the European Union to bring about environmental degradation effects in check. Amongst the most important regulations that have been brought in are the individual country requirements that have now been put on individual member countries to reduce the carbon footprints. Among the corporates operating in EU, regulations have been put on the automobile sector to increasingly produce vehicles with low carbon emissions and to eventually move out of Internal combustion technology for transportation and stop using petroleum using machines at all. Heightened emphasis is now being put on electric vehicles with power sourced from renewable resources. Utility companies in the United Kingdom are also being asked to progressively with their energy requirements to renewable energy resources and shun the use of coal and crude and gas for production of electricity. The steel sector, cement sector and power generation sector which use significant amounts of coal are now being asked to progressively reduce their use of this highly polluting energy resource or attract penal charges. The aviation industry is also not being spared, the industry being the one that emits carbon dioxide and other derivatives greenhouses gases in the upper reaches of the atmosphere are now facing laws to improve their act on this front. The coal and oil companies in the continent are also facing a lot of discontent from non-government and government bodies to reduce their carbon footprints as well.
What is the new UK framework on climate change going to look like post Brexit?
The new UK framework on climate change is likely to be very similar to the existing EU environmental framework to which it was complying to, for so long. The country has already achieved several of the emission objectives that were set out during its stay in the EU; however, the present economic situation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic is also expected to play a part in the framing of the new regulations. However, the present government's economic plans as detailed by chancellor Sunak in his budget presentation in March is expected to provide the basic framework for the new legislation.
Several large corporates in the UK have also pitched in with their support to these initiatives and have launched their own efforts to fund and support renewable energy ventures in the continent. British supermarket operator Sainsbury Plc had announced a few months back that it will be spending £1 billion to make itself carbon neutral by 2040. The CEO of BP Bernard Looney had announced that his company would invest more in low carbon businesses and lower its exposure to oil and gas businesses. BP at this time emits nearly 400 million tons of carbon dioxide per year mostly from its Oil and gas business verticals. Glencore Plc, another LSE listed energy company, has committed to cut its carbon footprint by at least 30 per cent by the year 2035.