World facing ‘decisive decade’ over climate change, UK environment chief warns

The world faces a “decisive decade” in the battle against climate change after failing to do “nearly enough” to meet critical targets, a UK climate change chief today warned.

Alok Sharma, addressing world leaders six months ahead of the COP26 climate summit, said the failure to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees could be catastrophic.

Speaking from a windfarm outside Glasgow, Mr Sharma said governments are now facing an uphill battle to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, which they committed to in 2015.

He warned that the science is getting “starker”, saying: “Every fraction of a degree makes a difference”.

The former business secretary warned that the summit is the “last hope” for keeping the target alive.

Failing to keep to the 1.5 degree target will be catastrophic, Mr Sharma warned

He said this morning: “The world hasn’t done nearly enough, while all the time the science is getting starker, and it will continue to do so.

“Now to keep 1.5 degrees alive, we must halve global emissions by 2030.

“This is the decisive decade, and we must act now.”

Mr Sharma said: “Human activity is damaging our earth, is imperiling this brilliant jewel.

“And if we do not act now, the science tells us these effects will become more frequent and more brutal, that we will witness a scale of global catastrophe the likes of which the world has not seen.”

He described the earth as a "brilliant jewel" and said not enough had been done to protect it
He described the earth as a “brilliant jewel” and said not enough had been done to protect it

He has called for coal to be consigned to history – only months after the Government called in a controversial bid for a coal mine in Cumbria.

Oxfam’s Climate Policy Advisor Tracy Carty said: “Alok Sharma may have faith that world leaders will rise to the occasion, but six months is not long.

“The UK Government should strain every diplomatic sinew to ensure Glasgow is a success for everyone, not least the communities already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis.

Kate Blagojevic, head of climate at Greenpeace UK, welcomed his commitment to the 1.5C goal but called for more action.

“The UK can’t claim climate leadership overseas whilst at home the Government continues to entertain a new coal mine in Cumbria or maintains the planning block on English onshore wind,” she said.

“With only six months left the clock is ticking, if the Government wants to be climate leaders it’s time they act like it.”

David Attenborough was selected as the People's Advocate at November's summit
David Attenborough was selected as the People’s Advocate at November’s summit

Broadcaster and environmental campaigner David Attenborough was this week announced as the People’s Advocate at the UN summit.

He will “put forward the compelling case to global leaders, key decision makers and the public for why climate action matters”, according to the Cabinet Office.

Recruiting the hugely-respected 95-year-old TV veteran, who is widely credited for highlighting damage being caused to the planet, is a big coup for the Government as preparations for November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow gather pace.

He said: “I am greatly honoured to be given the role of People’s Advocate.

“There could not be a more important moment that we should have international agreement.

“The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems.

“But the problems that await us within the next five to 10 years are even greater.

“It is crucial that these meetings in Glasgow, COP26, have success, and that at last the nations will come together to solve the crippling problems that the world now faces.”

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