In the lead up to Cop28 UN Secretary General, António Guterres, is set to seek assurances from the UK government that it will not go back on climate promises, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looked to water down some environmental commitments.
These include pushing back the deadlines for selling new petrol and diesel cars and delaying the phasing out of gas boilers.
The UN made the statement ahead of the COP28 climate summit, set to open in Dubai on November 30th, expressing concerns that countries may be backsliding on pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply, to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General, said the UN was ‘absolutely’ concerned about backsliding on climate commitments because ‘there is a lot of it’.
Countries made pledges last year, at the Cop27 summit in Egypt, and at the landmark Cop26 summit in Glasgow in 2021, where the 1.5C limit was strongly affirmed.
‘Certainly, the secretary general will be leaning in to have those conversations with countries like the UK, the US, China, many [others]. It doesn’t stop,’ Mohammed said. ‘We have to keep them in the room [discussing climate action]. We need to get out of everyone the best of the ambition that is expected from us.
‘We have to call that out and it has to reverse itself. There is a lot of it. And this is what brings more mistrust into the room, that suddenly the goalposts may be changing.’
In the US, Joe Biden has licensed new oil and gas developments, despite taking a strong stance on the climate crisis. The EU has also recently failed to toughen its commitment to emissions reduction, currently set at a 55 per cent cut by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, and China and India continue to invest in coal.
Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN’s top climate official, said: ‘Those [countries] who have the ability to go further, fastest [on cutting emissions] must, and those that can, that aren’t – I think they’re already being called out.’