Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK Government will develop extra bold local weather and nature targets and initiatives because it completes an Integrated assessment of international coverage.
In his foreword to a report outlining the findings of a session on an Integrated Review of coverage throughout Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Johnson wrote that “In 2021 and beyond, Her Majesty’s Government will make tackling climate change and biodiversity loss its number one international priority”.
The foreword outlines a dedication to use learnings from enshrining a net-zero goal into home regulation – and from supporting coverage choices, just like the launch of the £12bn Ten-Point Plan – to international relations. While naming actions up to now, like ceasing the financing of fossil fuel projects overseas and supporting the UN Security Council to carry its first high-level assembly on the affect of local weather change on peace and safety, the report admits that there’s rather more to be finished to embed and join-up the UK’s strategy to sustainability on the international stage.
As anticipated, the Integrated Review, which covers the interval by way of to the tip of 2025, begins by outlining aims round democracy, cybersecurity and navy defence. It additionally makes controversial commitments to develop the UK’s nuclear weapons arsenal and to solely return to spending 0.7% of gross nationwide revenue on international growth “when the fiscal situation allows”.
But one in all its 4 overarching aims, ‘sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology’, makes particular reference to scaling up low-carbon know-how sectors domestically and growing international collaboration right here, additionally. Another of the aims, ‘building resilience at home and overseas’, makes a dedication to deal with the dangers posed by local weather change and biodiversity loss “at source”.
On the previous, Johnson mentioned the UK hopes to be seen as a worldwide “science and tech superpower” by 2030. The report cites successes up to now in fields together with drugs, finance, synthetic intelligence and safety, which have helped to safe the UK’s place within the top three nations for personal science and tech funding. It goes on to explain applied sciences that help the worldwide low-carbon transition as “shared interests that bind together the citizens of the UK” and autos by way of which the UK can reply to international challenges.
On the latter, the UK has traditionally confronted criticisms relating to its financing of high-carbon vitality initiatives overseas; its exclusion of consumption-related emissions, international transport and international aviation emissions from accounting below the Climate Change Act; and its compliance-centred approach to tackling deforestation in international supply chains.
There had been few new bulletins referring to particular coverage strikes to vary this development. Instead, the Review promised that combatting the local weather and nature crises will be embedded as a top precedence for departments together with the Foreign Office, past preliminary will increase in finance forward of COP26.
The Review additionally highlights how the affect of local weather and nature dangers on the UK’s broader safety and growth insurance policies are rising up the agenda, citing analysis like WWF’s recent study revealing that the global economy could take an £8trn hit by 2050.
It states: “The affect of current local weather change will trigger growing harm: extra frequent and intense occasions similar to excessive warmth, storms and rain, resulting in elevated flooding, landslides and different impacts similar to wildfires… This can amplify displacement and migration – growing meals and water insecurity – and harm ecosystems. The results will be felt most acutely in sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia and the Middle East, with a disproportionate affect on areas which are already fragile and on the individuals who reside in them.
“This will have notably extreme penalties for the world’s poor and weak.”
Aside from displacement, the report highlights the hyperlinks between temperature enhance and nature loss and battle, air pollution, invasive animal and plant species and zoonotic ailments.
Too little, too late?
The UK Government has repeatedly confronted accusations that its strategy to net-zero is inadequate to drive the transition domestically – let alone internationally. This month alone, that conclusion has been reached in reports by two separate Committees of MPs. Additionally, detailed evaluation from Carbon Brief
While the environmental pledges within the Integrated Review have been cautiously welcomed by many inexperienced teams, the overall sentiment is that high-level pledges should be was focused insurance policies sooner somewhat than later – and that greater than a written or worded dedication will be wanted to really be part of up coverage and change tradition throughout Whitehall.
Campaign organisations have additionally cited potential hypocrisy and sure poor timing, provided that the UK supported the appointment of Australia’s Mathias Cormann as the brand new head of the OECD this week. Cormann has beforehand been extraordinarily vocal towards these campaigning for fossil-fuel phase-outs, as an alternative frequently supporting the coal trade in Canberra and past. He has additionally repeatedly criticised proposed insurance policies on carbon pricing.
Over the previous two years, Cormann seems to have modified his stance, adopting the language of the inexperienced restoration and low-carbon transition. In an announcement this week, he mentioned he’s now “absolutely committed to ambitious and effective action on climate change”. But concerns persist that he could proceed to oppose the extent of ambition and the sorts of motion wanted in future.
Outgoing OECD chief Angel Gurria used his previous couple of days in workplace to implore his successor to make sure that the worldwide battle towards the local weather and nature disaster turns into the organisation’s top precedence. He spoke openly of his support for policies like elevated costs on carbon, necessary environmental situations on monetary bail-outs and fastened coal phase-out dates.