The UK must “act now” and lead the way if the world is to “avert a catastrophic climate crisis”, Sadiq Khan has warned.
In advance of Cop26, the global climate summit to be held in Glasgow, the London mayor said that the “time for excuses and inaction is over” and that the UK must show “urgency and leadership”.
“Cop26 is a huge moment for the UK to exercise real influence on the world stage and to use its soft power and diplomatic clout to secure a landmark global agreement,” he said.
“But more importantly, the fate of our environment, our planet and our shared future truly hangs in the balance and it’s in all of our interests to act now – and to act decisively – to avert a catastrophic climate crisis.
“The reality is, we have no option but to put ourselves at the forefront of the global movement for climate action and climate justice.”
The Glasgow summit is viewed by many as the last major opportunity to put the world on track for limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – the aspirational target set by countries under the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Today temperatures are already around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels and current targets and pledges put forward by countries would see the world warm by around 2.6C by the end of the century, according to analysis by Climate Action Tracker.
A landmark assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s authority on climate science, found that limiting global warming to 1.5C rather than 2C is vital to stem further increases in extreme heat, glacier loss and the fast disappearance of coral reefs, among other impacts.
Mr Khan said that measures to tackle the climate crisis must be “at the heart” of efforts to recover from the Covid pandemic.
“We need to be clear that a strong economic recovery and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive, but one and the same,” he said.
“Indeed, a green recovery will not only enable us to protect our environment, but to create the jobs and prosperity that we need.”
Earlier this week, an assessment from the International Energy Agency warned that global greenhouse gas emissions could rise to record levels by 2023 if the world fails to put green measures at the centre of Covid recovery plans.
On Tuesday, US climate envoy John Kerry also warned that all countries must urgently take tougher action to “protect and preserve the fragile world we share”.
“It’s about understanding that it costs more to not respond to the climate crisis than it does to respond,” he told a crowd at London’s Kew Gardens. “It is – without exaggeration – about survival.”