Carbon emissions targets need to be ‘met with action’

“Where there’s a big gaping hole is the fact that there are still no policies to deliver this new target.” Green Party Co-leader Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas MP respond to the Prime Minister’s pledges to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas
Green World

At a virtual White House summit yesterday (22 April) ahead of COP26, the Prime Minister urged world leaders to ‘get serious’ about stepping up plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

This initiative comes on the back of the UK Government accepting recommendations to enshrine into UK law a 78 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, including a 68 per cent reduction by 2030. The target, if met, would bring the UK closer to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Government’s targets were welcomed by the Green Party, with Green MP Caroline Lucas commenting she ‘supports the strengthening of the targets’.

However, Lucas continued: “Where there’s a big gaping hole is the fact that there are still no policies to deliver this new target. [The UK Government] won’t even deliver on earlier, weaker targets, let alone get us to 78 per cent emissions reductions by 2035.

“The attitude of this Government is ‘keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully something will turn up’. There is no willingness to engage in some of the critical political choices that need to be made and schemes which are launched and then abandoned.”

Such pledges form the foundations of the 2015 Paris Agreement, of which nearly every country in the world is a signatory. The Paris Agreement is considered vital to meeting the target to keep global warming to under two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

When asked in an interview what he made of the Prime Minister’s assertion to ‘get serious’ about stopping climate change, the Green Party of England and Wales Co-leader Jonathan Bartley commented: “That’s a good question, because we need to see the targets met with action.

“What we’re seeing with this summit, and what Boris Johnson has said today, is hopefully a race to the top. We’ve seen it led by European countries, a lot of Greens being elected into public office there and pushing the agenda.

“We’ve seen the announcement from Boris Johnson – perhaps he was feeling like he was being outmanoeuvred by America. America’s now going to respond, and hopefully, that will then bring in China, and so we will get this virtuous race to the top that we desperately need. 

“But, of course, with all of these targets, we have to see the action. Where is the action to back up these targets?”