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UK Needs to Step Up Support for Countries Devastated by Climate Change, Green Groups Say

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The UN's Global Goal 13 calls for countries to take climate action. The transformative policies that are required to help the recovery from COVID-19 also provide the perfect opportunity for bold action that will benefit people, the economy, and the planet for years to come. To find out more about the climate crisis and take action, join us here.


The Climate Coalition, an association of charities in the UK campaigning for action on the climate crisis, has convened 70 organisations to jointly recommend 10 measures to help kickstart a green recovery from COVID-19.

The group of organisations that have signed the plan includes Global Citizen, Oxfam, Greenpeace, and dozens more large and small nonprofits. 

It consists of 10 concrete actions for the UK government to take, including pledges to increase financial support to fight the climate crisis in developing countries, decrease fossil fuel support overseas, and restore and protect worldwide eco-systems. 

One way to achieve that will be to ensure the UK’s imports adhere to certain standards of environmental protection, the report says.

The UK should work to create a Global Biodiversity Framework, for example, to ensure imported commodities are sustainably sourced and do not drive deforestation and ecological destruction in other parts of the world. 

Importantly, part of the UK's global responsibilties should be working to support those countries that are badly affected by extreme weather events but have done the least to actually cause climate change, the plan suggests. 

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Annabelle Roberts, a digital campaigner at Global Citizen, explains that as the UK represents just 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, its ability to meaningfully prevent the worst effects of climate change is limited if the country acts alone.

"We have to think and act globally," Roberts says. "That's why the 10 point plan urges the UK to end support for fossil fuels overseas and to instead support renewable energy drives across the world and to restore global ecosystems."

In terms of domestic policies, the Coalition urges the government to take action to make every UK home energy efficient within a decade, switch to zero-carbon transport, and set up a Climate Infrastructure Bank to accelerate the financing of renewable energy projects. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is drawing up a 10 point plan of his own as per a government announcement on Oct. 6, with the full details expected to be published on Nov. 12, the BBC reports. However the Climate Coalition is concerned the plans will not go far enough and may rely on energy solutions like nuclear and hydrogen that they say are too expensive and not as effective as sources like wind power. 

The group argues that it’s important for the UK to show bold leadership now as the country is hosting the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, in 2021, and the world will be watching.

And ahead of COP26, the UK will be hosting the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 on Dec. 12, to propel progress forward on commitments made in the Paris Agreement, exactly five years on from when 196 countries signed on to its historic plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Clara Goldsmith, the campaigns director at the Climate Coalition, told BBC News: "The UK will only be successful in galvanising global climate action if it gets its own house in order.”

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"Our 10 point plan can restore UK leadership on climate change, create hundreds of thousands of green jobs, and help rebuild our shattered economy," Goldsmith added.

The Climate Coalition report points out that existing pledges from the world’s countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “put us on course for a catastrophic 3C to 4C of global heating.” 

Instead, the coalition continues, the UK needs to show the “global leadership as a COP26 president and announce a high ambition NDC (nationally determined contribution) that is a fair share of the global effort needed to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius.” 

Other ideas in the 10 point plan include phasing out fossil fuel run vehicles by 2030; ramping up off-shore wind to hit renewable energy goals by guaranteeing contracts for an additional 20GW of offshore wind; and protecting UK nature by supporting sustainable farming and forestry.

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However, report co-author Ed Matthew, a member of the Climate Coalition and director of E3G, a European climate think tank, told BBC News how this 10 point plan will likely differ from Johnson's. 

"We're not campaigning against nuclear, but with every passing year, it looks less necessary and comparatively more expensive,” Matthew said.

He added: “We really fear the prime minister has had his head turned by the oil and gas lobby — they who want to produce hydrogen from natural gas as a way of staying in business. Heating homes with electricity is far more efficient.”

A UK government spokesperson said: "We are taking every opportunity to build on the UK's fantastic track record for tackling climate change. This month the prime minister outlined ambitious plans to build back greener by making the UK the world leader in clean wind energy, which is just one part of his 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution, which will be set out further this year.”