Please be assured that I recognise the importance of this issue and have been a green Conservative long before David Cameron made it fashionable. Conserving the wellbeing of our planet is at the heart of my Conservatism. I have championed the installation of electric vehicle charging points locally, strongly supported the Solar Together Bedfordshire initiative and taken a strong interest in regenerative agriculture, given the capacity of the soil to store more carbon than every tree and plant on the planet. I am also very pleased that locally Central Bedfordshire Council has planted over 18,000 trees in the last few years and that the Council has a net zero carbon commitment by 2030.
Furthermore, I also welcome the publication of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report which makes for very sobering reading making clear the stark consequences climate change is having on our planet and what will happen if decisive action is not taken now.
The report warns that climate change is already affecting every single region across the globe and without urgent action warming, heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and loss of Arctic Sea ice, snow cover and permafrost, will all increase. In addition, the report highlights that immediate action is required to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 to give a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C in the long-term and help to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
More specifically, the Mitigation of Climate Change report highlights how critical the next few years are for slowing down global warming, in particular the report shows the need to at least halve emissions by 2030. The report also focuses on key areas such as closing investment gaps and achieving sustainable development goals.
The UK Government is already taking the issue of climate change incredibly seriously and we have decarbonised our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. In addition, ambitious targets such as a 68 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and a 78 per cent reduction in emissions by 2035, also compared to 1990 levels have been enshrined in law.
The report also highlights that progress on adapting countries to global warming is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks. These gaps are largest among lower-income populations. The Government recognises that we urgently need climate adaptation to save vulnerable communities. That is why I welcome that the last decade the UK has helped 88 million people to cope with the effects of climate change.
The IPCC report must be a wake-up call for the rest of the world to take action now. While welcome progress has been made, for example in 2019 when the UK took on the COP26 Presidency, which has now been handed over to Egypt, only 30 per cent of the world was covered by net zero targets. I am glad that this figure is now at around 90 per cent. Over the same period, 154 Parties have submitted new national targets, representing 80 per cent of global emissions.
The next decade will be decisive, and I look forward to seeing further global ambition to tackle this issue which is the greatest threat facing our planet. I was encouraged that at COP26, the UK succeeded in securing an agreement which requires countries to return this year with a more ambitious 2030 emissions reductions target in line with the 1.5C target.