More ambitious emissions targets emerge as climate crisis worsens

It is being reported that Boris Johnson will announce more radical Climate Change commitments later this week that will “set the UK on course to cut carbon emissions by 78% by the year 2035.”

US President Joe Biden along with his climate envoy John Kerry will on Thursday host a virtual summit of 40 world leaders to discuss the climate crisis and seek new commitments to help fulfil the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The US are expected to announce their emissions plan for the next 10 years over the coming days and will show how ambitious Biden is prepared to be to tackle the existential crisis. Some reports suggest he will set a target of 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Across these islands political parties are already setting more ambitious targets for net zero. Targets are meaningless without implementation of course but at least there is a growing consensus that we need to see radical action and quickly. With studies suggesting that fast rising temperatures over the next decade have a high chance of triggering potentially uncontrollable warming it is quite clear that we could be staring into that abyss within not just our own lifetimes, but within a short number of years.

In Wales for example all of the main political parties want to set targets that are now more ambitious than what the Climate Change Committee (CCC) have recommended.

After the Committee advised the Welsh government to set a target of 95% emissions reduction by 2050 the Senedd decided to go further than the CCC recommendation and aim for net zero by 2050.

The Welsh government have set a Net Zero target of 2050 but are working to “get there sooner“.  The Conservative Party wish to set a target of net zero for Wales by 2040, Plaid Cymru 2035 and the Green Party 2030.

In Stormont the Climate Change Bill is due to reach its second stage next month and there is significant cross-party support for the Bill which sets a net zero target of 2045.

Meanwhile a United Nations report has said that time is running out to tackle the climate crisis.

“We are on the verge of the abyss,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres  as he launched the State of the Global Climate 2020 report by the WMO on Monday.

The report found that 2020 was one of the three hottest years on record in spite of cooling La Niña conditions.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continued to increase despite the reduction in emissions in 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Remnick in an interview for the Observer on Sunday made a sobering comment that

“with Covid-19, while we still face more “waves” and loss, there is an end in sight – thanks largely to the increasing distribution of vaccines.

“But climate change will not have a vaccine, a relatively singular solution, and certainly not on a short timeline. We have to understand that the damage we have been doing to our planet, to ourselves, is already exacting a terrible price and scientists make it plain that this damage, this loss, will increase rapidly if we continue on our idiotic and self-defeating course.

“Pfizer and Moderna and the rest will not be there to lower sea levels or put out the fire.”