British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed the “incredible things” being done by India in the solar energy sector as he warned that the emergency facing the world from climate change was far more destructive than even the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson said this in his address to the Climate Ambition Summit this weekend, co-hosted by the UK to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement.
In his speech to the virtual summit, which was earlier addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among around 70 heads of state and government, the British prime minister reiterated the UK’s pledge to radically cut dependence on fossil fuels.
“We’re going ahead with a massive solar programme, even though we can’t hope to emulate the incredible things being done by India, Australia or Morocco for instance,” he said.
“Today, we’re putting our foot to the accelerator – in a carbon friendly way of course – with a Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. We want to turn the UK into the Saudi Arabia of wind power generation, enough wind power by 2030 to supply every single one of our homes with electricity… Hydro of course – we’re liberating the awesome potential of hydrogen, whether for homes or all sorts of uses,” he said.
The summit, held as a precursor to the UK’s hosting of the United Nations’ COP26 summit in November 2021, included addresses urging the world’s economies to “stop the assault” on the planet and increase their ambition on cutting the greenhouse gases that drive climate change.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned leaders that the world was heading for a “catastrophic” 3 degrees Celsius of warming, as he urged them to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until they become carbon neutral.
“Have we made any real progress at this summit? And the answer to that is: yes,” said Alok Sharma, the UK’s Business Secretary and President of COP26.
“But they will also ask, have we done enough to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and protect people and nature from the effects of climate change? To make the Paris Agreement a reality. Friends, we must be honest with ourselves, the answer to that, is currently: no. As encouraging as all this ambition is. It is not enough,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday, Johnson said advances in renewable energy technologies would “save our planet and create millions of high-skilled jobs” as the UK announced an end to support for the fossil fuel sector overseas.
Described as a significant move as in the last four years, the UK government supported 21 billion pounds of UK oil and gas exports through trade promotion and export finance. The new policy will be implemented after a short period of consultation and is intended to come into force as soon as possible before COP26 next year.
“Together we can use scientific advances to protect our entire planet – our biosphere – against a challenge far worse, far more destructive even than the coronavirus. And by the promethean power of our invention, we can begin to defend the Earth against the disaster of global warming,” said Johnson.
The UK had recently also announced a new commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
The UK claims this means its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Climate Agreement is now among the highest in the world and commits the country to cutting emissions at one of the fastest rates of any major economy.