Climate change: UK ‘on track’ to meet ‘challenging’ target of net zero emissions by 2050, minister declares

The UK is “on track” to meet its “challenging” target of hitting net zero emissions by 2050, a minister has told Sky News.

“I think it’s challenging, but I think we are on track, I think we’re doing quite well,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Kay Burley about the goal.

“If you look, since 1990 we’ve reduced our emissions by 45% and we’ve managed to grow the economy by 80%, this is a world-beating figure.”

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UN: Climate change poses ‘immediate threat’

He added: “It’s 2021 now, I think there’s every chance we will hit the target.

“It’s a lot of work and I think we can do that … it is challenging, it’s not an easy thing, if it were an easy thing we wouldn’t be going on about it.”

Mr Kwarteng was speaking ahead of the release of a landmark United Nations review into climate change.

This found that heatwaves, flooding and droughts will be more frequent and more intense as the world is set to hit the 1.5C global warming limit in the next 20 years.

The milestone scientific assessment says the rate of warming in the last 2,000 years has been “unprecedented” and it was “unequivocal” that human influence is already responsible for 1.1C of global warming since 1850.

Every inhabited region on Earth is already impacted by climate change and the report found that the accepted 1.5C limit will be met even in the best case scenario, causing more regular extreme weather events.

Boris Johnson said the report “makes for sobering reading” and shows “the next decade is going to be pivotal to securing the future of our planet”.

“We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline,” the prime minister said.

“The UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades.

“I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit.”

But Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said Mr Johnson “still can’t make his mind up whether he cares about the climate or not”.

“The UK should lead the world in tackling the climate emergency, instead we’re showing other countries that climate inaction is acceptable,” he said.

Ahead of COP26 gathering later this year, the climate minister has come in for criticism for travelling by plane to 30 countries in seven months.

Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting told Sky News on Monday that the travel was “not a good look”.

“They [the public] want the government to take action, but we can’t have a ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ mantra, ‘One rule for them, one rule for everyone else’ mantra coming from the government, because we’ve got to take the country with us,” the shadow child poverty secretary said.

“We have all got to play our part.”

The business secretary defended Mr Sharma’s foreign travel however, arguing that “if you’re trying to conduct international diplomacy, if you’re trying to build trust with other people, I think face-to-face meetings are critical for that”.

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“COP26 is a big international event, it’s probably the biggest international event of international diplomacy that we’ve hosted in decades and he has to go and forge those alliances, he has to build networks, he has to deliver on people’s commitments and that does involve foreign travel,” Mr Kwarteng said.

He added that Zoom “has its limitations”, saying: “I think it’s effective in some quarters, but if you’re trying to conduct international diplomacy, if you’re trying to build trust with other people, I think face-to-face meetings are critical for that.”

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.

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