UK’s prime minister David Cameron said in a speech at the UN’s climate summit that the country is on track to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 but that businesses and the poorest countries need assistance in order to thrive in a low-carbon future.
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Speaking in New York, where world leaders gathered to discuss action on climate change, in order to ease the reaching of a global climate agreement in Paris in 2015, Cameron said the UK is “playing its part”.
The PM said, “We now need the whole world though to step up to deliver a new, ambitious, global deal which keeps the 2 degree goal within reach. I’ll be pushing European Union leaders to come to Paris with an offer to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2030.”
Cameron said Britain is committing to reducing its emissions by 80% by 2050, as well as £4 billion of climate finance over five years.
He also said, “We must provide support to those who need it, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable. It is completely unrealistic to expect developing countries to forgo the high carbon route to growth that so many Western countries enjoyed, unless we support them to achieve green growth.
“We need to give business the certainty it needs to invest in low carbon. That means fighting against the economically and environmentally perverse fossil fuel subsidies, which distort free markets and rip off taxpayers. It means championing green free trade, slashing tariffs on things like solar panels. And it means giving business the flexibility to pick the right technologies for their needs.
“In short we need a framework built on green growth not green tape.”
Environmental groups have welcomed the speech but noted that the government’s actions at home do not quite align with the words heard in New York.
Friends of the Earth’s campaigns and policy director Craig Bennett said, “David Cameron’s warm words on climate change are completely undermined by his policies at home – massive tax breaks for oil exploration and support for fracking will simply keep our economy hooked on dirty fossil fuels.
“Wealthy nations who have caused this crisis must now take the lead in building a cleaner, safer future based on energy efficiency and clean renewable power.”
Meanwhile, Greenpeace activists have blocked a freight train delivering 1,500 tonnes of coal to Cottam power station in Nottinghamshire as a way of calling for more concrete action.
Greenpeace UK climate campaigner Sara Ayech said, “We’re here blocking this coal train because right now Britain is burning growing amounts of coal just because it’s more lucrative for the Big Six than using gas. This is damaging our climate, our health, and our energy security as we depend on Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs for most of our coal imports.
“We need action not just words. Will Cameron now cancel billions in planned new subsidies for UK coal? And will he make good on a rumoured commitment to phase out coal emissions completely?”
Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development via flickr