PM must be a statesman to make sure Cop26 climate summit succeeds – Ed Miliband

‘Frightening maths’ shows how far off track the world is on needed emissions cuts, shadow business secretary will say in speech.

Ed Miliband book
Ed Miliband book

Labour is urging the Prime Minister to treat crucial Cop26 climate talks seriously to prevent the event from becoming a “greenwash summit”.

In a speech on Wednesday, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband will set out the “undeniable and frightening maths” of emissions reductions that shows the world is miles away from where it needs to be ahead of the UN conference.

And in a broadside to Boris Johnson’s holiday amid an energy crisis and in the run-up to the talks, he will urge him to “get off his sun lounger and start being a statesman”.

On the energy crisis, he will say: “Ministers are turning on each other when they should be turning outwards to engage with industry and take action by intervening. We can’t sit back and watch whole British industries go to the wall.”

The former Labour leader, who was at the troubled Copenhagen UN climate summit in 2009 as UK climate change secretary, will say the Government has not properly set out what Cop26 in Glasgow should achieve – and is undermining its own case as it tries to call for action.

At Cop26, countries will be under pressure to increase ambition and action to meet the goals of the Paris accord to keep global temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep them to 1.5C – beyond which the worst impacts of the climate crisis will be felt.

In his speech, Mr Miliband will warn that to meet the 2C target, we need to cut emissions by 12 billion tonnes a year in 2030 and 28 billion tonnes for achieving the 1.5C goal.

But on the basis of pledges made there will only be a maximum reduction of four billion tonnes of greenhouse gases by 2030, he will warn.

“This is the undeniable and frightening maths of Glasgow,” he will tell the event hosted by the think tank Green Alliance.

“We cannot let Cop26 be the greenwash summit.

“It’s time for the Prime Minister to get off his sun lounger, be a statesman and make Glasgow the success we need it to be. This summit must succeed.

“It still can. But we need a step-change in action from our government and governments across the world.”

And he will warn: “Above all, finally, at the 11th hour, the Prime Minister must treat this summit with the seriousness which it deserves.”

He will also criticise the Government for cutting its aid budget at a time when trust between developing and developed countries is key and the UK needs to persuade others to step up to deliver climate finance for poor countries.

Mr Miliband will point to a trade deal with Australia, which does not include Paris temperature commitments, and the potential new coal mine in Cumbria just as the UK, as Cop26 hosts, is pushing for an end to coal.

“The Government have been at best bystanders and at worst, contributors to global inaction,” he will argue.

His comments come after Cop26 President Alok Sharma urged major economies to come forward with new climate action plans for 2030 to keep the 1.5C goal within reach.

Mr Sharma has said the Glasgow summit must have a negotiated outcome which drives increased ambition up to 2030, countries must take action on coal, protecting forests, clean transport and methane emissions, and deliver a long-promised 100 billion US dollars a year in finance for poorer countries.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has made tackling climate change his personal international priority and has been focusing his efforts on ensuring that world leaders can come together and deliver for our planet in Glasgow.

“He has been clear that Cop26 must be the moment that every country, and every part of society, embraces their responsibility to protect our shared future and is looking forward to meeting with leaders – from big emitters to climate vulnerable nations – to make sure Cop26 counts.”

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