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The government can’t let COP26 be a cop out

As world leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss the biggest challenge our planet faces, it’s vital that the government leads by example at home and abroad and delivers for people and planet.

As hosts of COP26, Britain has a special responsibility to act. It will take serious and sustained leadership from across government for this summit to succeed, yet it continues to treat this summit as more of a photo opportunity than bring with it the diplomatic acumen it requires.

Success at Glasgow is all about the maths. In Paris the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C. This means reducing global emissions by half, but as this summit started the government had only achieved commitments to just 7.5 per-cent. Whilst we’ve seen a little progress so far at COP, we are miles from where we need to be.

When we needed the government pulling in the same direction, we’ve had infighting and undermining of the UK’s moral authority. They’ve been telling countries to end coal use, but are flirting with a new coalmine in Cumbria. They want the world to go fossil free, but are licensing a massive new oilfield off the Scottish coast. They’re calling for countries to invest in green transitions at home, whilst failing to provide the investment and support for households and businesses to decarbonise.

Labour has set out a series of demands on government to Keep 1.5C alive and deliver for people and planet this decisive decade. The government now needs to end the double talk on climate and tell the truth about where we are.
That means climate action at home. We should be investing £28bn additional every year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis, creating secure jobs in the UK and supporting the most vulnerable by reversing the overseas aid cut.

Government has got to be focused on pressuring the big polluters. That starts by calling for 1.5C-aligned targets from the big emitting countries, phasing out fossil fuels, and ensuring a just transition for workers. Instead of dragging their feet on this, they should be taking concrete action to mobilise private finance behind climate action by requiring financial institutions to publish their carbon footprint and, crucially, adopt credible 1.5C-aligned transition plans by 2023.

The government failed to lay the ground for success at Glasgow, but we must not give up hope. I will continue to press the government to keep 1.5C alive, and deliver for the people of Portsmouth, Britain and the world.

Stephen Morgan MP