The world is “badly off track” to meet carbon emission targets, a minister has warned, as he said the UK will make it a priority at Cop28 to maintain the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The energy minister also told MPs that “we must not lose hope and fall into a council of doom”, insisting efforts to date have succeeded in “bending the emissions curve away from apocalyptic levels”.
He told the Commons: “The upcoming Cop hosted by the UAE comes at a really important moment in tackling the climate crisis.
“Amid record temperatures and emissions, the first comprehensive stocktake of progress against the Paris agreement at Cop28 will show that the world is badly off track.
“We have made significant progress through the Paris Agreement with temperature projections shifting from 4 degrees increase before Paris, to 2.4 to 2.7 degrees after Glasgow, thanks to the nationally determined contributions, the individual contributions which countries have put forward and said that they will meet.
“But we know that it is not enough. In Glasgow we cemented the goal of limiting global increases to no more than 1.5 degrees as our north star.
“This has been carried forward by the UAE presidency and the latest science and the impact we are seeing even at 1.1 degrees shows us why that is so important.
“So a top priority for the UK is to leave Cop28 with a clear roadmap to keep 1.5 degrees as a ceiling in reach.”
Mr Stuart recognised challenges for climate ambitions, and warned “G20 relations are strained”, adding: “Some countries are seeking to stoke divisions, to deflect from their own responsibility to take action.”
In addition to the goal to “keep 1.5 degree alive”, he laid out four other priorities for the Government at the summit.
They are to make clear progress towards a “clean energy future” including a commitment to “phase out coal power”, reform of international financial institutions, improve adaption to climate change including “establishing an effective loss and damage fund”, and make “real progress towards protecting, restoring and sustainably managing nature”.
He said the UK has decarbonised “faster than any major economy” and has “ambitious plans”.
But he said the UK also has to “lead the global conversation”, saying: “Two years on from Glasgow the need to accelerate action is more urgent than ever”.
Closing his remarks, the minister said: “Though the gap looks unassailably large, we must not lose hope and fall into a council of doom.
“The reality is that efforts to date have succeeded in bending the emissions curve away from apocalyptic levels of warming of three degrees or more, and in some sectors, notably energy and electric cars, the transition is taking off.”
Shadow energy minister Kerry McCarthy told the Commons: “We don’t have a Government that is taking action on all fronts that is needed now. We have a Government that is not just stalling, but taking us backwards.”
Conservative former environment secretary Therese Coffey, making her first contribution in the Commons as a backbencher since leaving the Government in this week’s reshuffle, said: “Cop28 is absolutely going to be vital.”
She commended the Government for “recognising … the necessity for a just transition”, welcoming the Prime Minister’s decision “to allow more time” for certain changes, including his pledge not to force people to replace oil boilers.