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The United Kingdom is a global leader in the fight against climate change

30 September 2021
General Interest

In November, the UK, together with Italy, will host an event many expect to be a renewed chance for the world to get runaway climate change under control – the 2021 United Nations climate change conference COP26. In the run up to COP26 the UK is working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change, and the most visible goal is working with countries to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. We talked with H.E. Mr. Andrew Noble, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Romania about some of the topics to be addressed at COP26 and before.

Y.E., please tell us how prepared is the UK to host COP26 in terms of its own leadership on climate!

It is of course a great honour for the UK to host COP26 and I know the city of Glasgow will be a fine host. We want to lead by example as host of the COP26 conference. We are dedicated to engaging with all countries and joining forces with civil society, businesses, and people on the frontlines of climate change, thus encouraging urgent climate action. During the event, we will want to send a clear signal to get decarbonisation moving faster and keep 1.5 degrees in reach. We are focused on driving action to end coal power, accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, tackle deforestation and reduce methane emissions.

The first example of our commitment to this goal came in 2019 when we legislated for net zero emissions by 2050 – the first of the major economies to set such a legally binding target.

In November 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced his Ten Point Plan which strengthens our ability to bring other countries with us and positions Britain as a leader in the green technologies we all need to employ.

The Plan will accelerate the transition to net zero in the UK, including ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

In December 2020, PM Johnson announced an ambitious new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This target commits the UK to the fastest rate of emissions reductions of any major economy.

I believe this all shows that the United Kingdom is a global leader in the fight against climate change. We are dedicated to fulfilling our world-leading climate goals, having already cut emissions by 44% over the last three decades. Not just that, but we’ve secured record investment in wind power, we are committed to end coal power by 2024, we’ve launched a new UK Emissions Trading Scheme, and we have invested over £1bn to support the development of carbon capture, usage and storage technologies, as well as over £2bn to support the decarbonisation of transport.

How close are we from securing global net zero by mid-century and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach? First of all in terms of engagements and the in terms of actual changes in the field.

We are already seeing the effects of climate change on our doorstep. Human activity is damaging our planet at an alarming rate. We now realise that immediate action can avert the worst impacts. If we halve global emissions by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050 we will be able to keep 1.5 degrees as a viability. We in the UK have pledged our commitment to net zero carbon emissions, and we have called on every nation to announce their credible targets. Most countries were extremely receptive and stepped-up with their long-term actions towards achieving net zero – thus becoming an international norm. For instance, countries representing over 65% of global emissions and over 70% of the world’s economy have followed our lead and are now committed to reaching carbon neutrality. Some countries will be able to get there faster than others, but this is a path we must all take if we are to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change and keep 1.5°C within reach.

The UK is committed to furthering our four key goals, namely: to secure global net zero by 2050 and to keep 1.5 degrees alive; to adapt in order to protect natural habitats and most-at-risk communities; to mobilise the necessary financial commitment and to deliver a successful COP26 for our planet.

At COP26 leaders will continue to ask all nations for their ambitious commitment and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as well as Long-Term Strategies (LTS).

There is also a renewed focus on pushing for near-term action in deforestation, zero-emissions vehicles, coal phase out, and methane.

Regarding coal, we ought to push for immediate action to end coal power and international coal financing through the advancement of clean power as a viable replacement.

For deforestation, protecting natural forests and halting international loss of forests by 2030 is of utmost importance. Additionally, we must restore millions of hectares of damaged forestlands and landscapes – thus, increasing forest finance and improving governance.

On methane, we must work with EU & US colleagues in order to build on the number of existing global initiatives that target the reduction of methane emissions. Methane will play a large role in keeping 1.5 degrees in reach before 2030 and there are significant low cost abatement measures that can be implemented quickly in this space.

Regarding transport, pushing for ZEVs by 2035 will be our best approach.

Some countries are less capable than others to invest for climate goals, irrespective of how pressing such investments are. Is there any form of solidarity in order to enable such countries to advance towards common climate targets?

Considering that we are facing such perilous times for our planet and that the solution we currently have to safeguard its future depends on teamwork, we need all countries to come to an agreement and be on the same path. In order to make that work, inter-ministerial relationships will be key to success. The UK held a ministerial meeting in July with major emitters, including from countries that are at most risk when it comes to the effects of climate change. Collaboration will remain one of the key necessities in building trust with vulnerable countries and this meeting showed our dedication and commitment to working together, despite financial, adaptation and mitigation challenges. Additionally, through gatherings like COP26, where such a wide range of topics can be discussed and reflected on, we showcase this common goal, our commitment to inclusivity and solidarity and our dedication to furthering the before-mentioned goals.

Developed countries have committed to provide financial resources to assist developing countries take climate action. This includes the commitment to jointly mobilise $100bn of climate finance per year through to 2025. Developed countries must demonstrate now how they will scale up climate finance to meet their commitments.

The UK has committed to double climate finance to £11.6bn over the period 2021 to 2025. We encourage all other donor countries to similarly increase their future provision of climate finance. Channeling the finance to enable climate action is a challenge faced by every country and organisation – the scale and speed of this transition will require all forms of finance: public and private; domestic and international.

What are the most plausible forms of mobilizing finance to build up the trillions required to secure global net zero?

In order to best support the transition to net zero, to climate resilient economies and strong international relations – we must get both public and private finance flowing.

We have witnessed strong progress toward this aim during the UK’s COP26 and the G7 presidencies. With additional announcements pouring in from Germany, Japan, and Canada, the G7 nations have committed new finance towards the $100 billion in climate finance goal, including extra funding for adaptation. However, all donors must strive to do more, with fresh funding being proposed at the United Nations General Assembly in September, as well as publishing a new clear plan on the delivery of the $100bn goal between now and 2025. Furthermore, every member country of the G7 has pledged to increase finance so they can meet the $100 billion target, including boosting funds that are meant to protect nature and communities from disastrous climate effects. This is a major step forward as G7 countries contribute the vast majority of bilateral climate finance. Not just that, but G7 countries expressed their dedication towards climate action by allocating a sixth of funds, namely the Special Drawing Rights ($650 billion reserve assets created by the IMF) in order to better support green and resilient recoveries in developing countries and climate-vulnerable economies. We urge all parties to respond to their call to countries & the IMF to support that aim.

Common goals, yet different starting points and different capabilities. What are the tools at hand in order to increase the speed of transition especially in the countries that are largest contributors to emissions impacting the climate?

The global transition to net zero needs to involve every industry, every country, and every region. We need to challenge everyone to be part of the conversation, and part of the solution. The steps we have taken so far on our road to COP26, including during the July Ministerial meeting, bring us closer to securing an outcome at Glasgow that people and our planet are wishing for.

The July Ministerial meeting, which I mentioned earlier, delivered progress on key issues, such as the need to scale up efforts to adapt to climate risks and phase out coal power. Germany and Canada agreed to take forward a delivery plan for mobilising the $100bn a year from developed countries that is so critically needed to help others in their fight against climate change. Ministers from Singapore and Norway agreed to continue consulting informally with ministers on Article 6, which relates to carbon markets, while Rwanda and Switzerland’s ministers agreed to consult on Common Time Frames for emissions reduction commitments, or Nationally Determined Contributions.

Ahead of the July meeting, we also saw a show of leadership from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) including the Solomon Islands, Bhutan and Ethiopia, as well as more ambitious NDCs from Paraguay, Morocco and Canada which will help keep the critical goal of limiting global heating to 1.5C in sight.

One of the goals for COP26 is finalizing the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement). What is already agreed upon in this respect and what is still to be negotiated on?

Working together to accelerate action will be key when deciding the Paris Rulebook. At COP26, we must finalise the outstanding technical elements of the Paris Agreement to deliver on the Agreement’s goals. We are turning our ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, business and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster. When delivering the four goals that have been previously agreed upon we will also aid in the recovery from COVID-19. It will build a better & brighter future with countless opportunities for green jobs, cleaner air, and prosperity. The UK has led the way and it has shown that green growth is not just a viable option, but a successful change that has grown our economy by 78% only in the last 30 years whilst cutting emissions by 44%. The UK was the first to reduce emissions with such rapidity and is on its way of being the fastest G7 country to only have ZEVs by mid-century.

We all need to change our behaviours in order to succeed. However, from voluntary frameworks and standards, to national legislation, what should we expect from COP26 in respect to requirements for companies, individuals or countries?

As we all know, the global transition to net zero needs to involve every nation, industry, every region, and every company that impacts the climate. We need to challenge everyone to be part of the conversation, and part of the solution. As mentioned before, the financial commitment is a responsibility that the G7 took in order to reach $100 billion goal. Businesses are also moving towards a common approach, being in line with the Paris Agreement – thus, by signing up to the Race to Zero, over 300 companies and 170 investors pledged to halving their emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050 at the latest. That can only be being possible with transparent and robust action plans.

Under the UK’s leadership, the first net zero G7 summit saw that most countries committed to drastic emissions reduction targets in the 2020s and will put an end to funding both fossil fuels and coal power this year. Following UK’s CO26 Presidency, we will continue to push the G20 and other countries to come forward with their ambitious plans for reduction by 2030, as well as their ideas on how they can aid in keeping the 1.5C target alive, as well as their input on big policy decisions, such as: ending coal power, ZEVs and deforestation.

As we continue to mobilise public money, we ought to also ensure we shift the trillions of total climate investment – including every company, financial firm, bank and insurer to change. For instance, the G7 pledged to make sure that markets play their part accordingly by moving towards mandatory climate-related financial disclosures. More than 250 firms and companies, incorporating almost half of the global asset management industry, have joined the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which is responsible for bringing together the best equipped net zero initiatives across the financial system that tackled the assets in excess of US $100 trillion, in order to accelerate the transition to net zero by mid-century.

Between 2021 and 2026, the UK has pledged to contribute with over £11.6 billion in climate funding. Additionally, we will support programmes like the Risk Informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) and the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC). The AAC is an opportunity for REAP to bring together a diverse group of partners with the goal of keeping 1 billion people safer from climate catastrophes by 2025.

What are the key factors at the moment in the relationship between the UK and Romania and how are they influenced by the climate efforts?

As regards engagement ahead of COP26, we talk regularly with the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Forests, and have an excellent dialogue with President Iohannis’ adviser on Climate Change. A Romanian delegation recently attended a meeting with our Regional COP26 Ambassador, David Moran, in Budapest, and were brought up to speed with our progress. We know subjects such as deforestation and coal are highly relevant here, and need to be managed sensitively given the importance to the economy. We are also involved in projects related to the Decarbonisation of the Danube Delta, with a view to using UK experience and our own Transport Decarbonisation Plan to see how this can be of use on promoting zero-emissions vehicles and Green Cities.

Nuclear, coal, O&G, renewables – are all energy sectors where the UK has plenty of powerful players and interesting projects undergone. Is there any in particular that you expect to flourish under the renewed climate responsibilities we discussed?

The UK has ambitious and innovative plans in tackling green transition. These include transforming energy, making a clean recovery after COVID-19, creating fair deals for consumers, and building back better & greener.

As the UK’s Energy White Paper – published in December last year – showcases, taking action in the energy sector will help ensure UK’s target to net zero emissions, it will better position British companies and their world class research base leading to more jobs and wealth for the country. Through ambitious projects in the energy sector, we believe this will transform energy, build a cleaner and greener future for people, the country and ultimately the planet, will support a green recovery and a growing economy, as well as thousands of green jobs across the country in the new green industries.

Additionally, it will aid in creating a fair deal for consumers, it will protect the fuel poor and provide various opportunities to save money on bills and have better housing conditions. The measures presented in the White Paper focus on reducing emissions from upstream oil & gas, from power and buildings, and it addresses the solution to decarbonising the energy system by 2050, as fossil fuels will be replaced with clean energy technologies such as: renewables, nuclear and hydrogen.

Let me close by just running through The Ten Point Plan. I think it serves as an ideal summary which sets the foundation for the Green Industrial Revolution, which will help create & support over 250,000 green jobs by 2030 across the UK. Here’s what it will do:

  • Offshore wind – we will power every home and support up to 60,000 jobs,
  • Hydrogen – we will generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030
  • Nuclear – a clean energy source that will support 10,000 jobs
  • Electric vehicles – ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030
  • Public transport – we will support cycling and walking and investing in zero-emission public transport
  • Jet zero and greener maritime – we are introducing projects for zero-emission planes and ships
  • Homes and public building – we’ll making them greener, warmer and more energy efficient, thus creating over 50,000 jobs by 2030
    Carbon capture – to capture and store harmful emissions and remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030
  • Nature – we’ll protect and restore the environment, such as our initiative on restoring England’s peatlands to a natural and healthy state
  • Innovation and finance – we’ll develop needed technology for green ambitions & finance.

And finally let me say a word about Building Back Greener. This is a project to work with clean wind energy through offshore wind farms, nuclear plants and investments in new hydrogen technologies. The use of clean energy will create thousands of jobs, carry on the lives of the people, it will help run cars, buses, trains, planes and ships, as well as heat all homes and keep the bills low. Part of this project is to use £160 million in order to upgrade ports and infrastructure across communities in Northern England, Scotland and Wales. This will allow us to hugely increase offshore wind capacity, which is already the largest in the world and currently meets 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity demand. This investment will aid in creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and it will enable the sector in supporting up to 60,000 jobs in ports, factories and the manufacturing of offshore wind turbines and delivering clean energy in the UK by 2030. More than that, investing in offshore wind will produce sufficient clean energy to support every home, boosting the government’s target to 40GW. Building on the strengths of the North Sea will allow new technology to boost capacity even further and maintain UK’s position as the forefront of the next generation in clean energy. All in all, the commitments presented in the White Paper and through the Ten Point Plan will certainly accelerate UK’s path to net zero by 2050.


This interview firstly appeared in the printed edition of Energynomics Magazine, issued in September 2021.

In order to receive the printed or electronic issue of Energynomics Magazine, we encourage you to write us at office [at] to include you in our distribution list. All previous editions are available HERE.

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