British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call on other leaders on Thursday to “build back better” after the coronavirus crisis and commit to net zero emission targets.
Addressing the United Nations’ climate action round-table, Johnson will say via videolink that the summit also offers world leaders an opportunity to announce new and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – their intended reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“As the world continues to deal with coronavirus, we must look ahead to how we will rebuild and how we can seize the opportunity to build back better,” Johnson is expected to say according to his Downing Street office.
“We cannot let climate action become another victim of coronavirus. Let us be the leaders who secure the very health of the planet for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.”
Scientists say the world is on track for catastrophic warming in the coming decades unless governments take rapid action to wean the global economy off fossil fuels and protect and restore forests, wetlands, peatlands and other ecosystems.
Britain has committed to reaching carbon neutral emissions by 2050, but some critics say the government has not taken the measures needed to reach its goal, calling on ministers to embed net zero into their coronavirus recovery plans.
The government, earlier this year, had to postpone a climate summit, COP26, due to take place in November, because of the coronavirus crisis. It is due to place next year in Glasgow.
“The eyes of the world will be on COP26 when the UK hosts it in November next year. But tackling climate change cannot wait,” said Alok Sharma, president of COP26.
“That’s why we are setting the stage now with a call to all those who are ready to step forward this December and set out bold new Nationally Determined Contributions for a clean and prosperous future.”