F11: The Climate Change Conference and the UK Government

Motion as passed by conference

Submitted by: 18 members

Mover: Wera Hobhouse MP (Spokesperson for Climate Change).

Summation: Duncan Brack.

Conference notes that the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (CoP26), which will take place in Glasgow in October / November 2021, chaired by the UK government, will offer the first chance since the Paris Agreement was negotiated in 2015 to review the emissions reduction targets countries have set themselves under the terms of that agreement.

Conference notes with concern that countries' levels of ambition so far fall far short of what is required to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

Conference further notes that although carbon dioxide emissions fell during 2020 (as a result mainly of the Coronavirus lockdowns reducing transport use), this is likely only to be a temporary reduction.

Conference recognises the need for the UK government to adopt a more proactive role, as chair of the conference, in encouraging countries to adopt more ambitious targets, but that it lacks the credibility to do this because of Conservative ministers' comprehensive failures to support policies that will achieve the UK's own net zero target, including failing to set out a strategy for meeting net zero and, among other decisions, cutting overseas aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNP and scrapping the Green Homes Grant scheme and putting nothing in its place to support home insulation.

Conference recognises the need for the UK government to adopt a proactive role in highlighting the importance of local government in achieving net zero across the world. Globally, the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) constituency have called for COP26 to be recognised as the ‘Multilevel Action COP’ in acknowledgment of the fact that more than half of the emissions cuts needed rely on people and businesses taking up low-carbon solutions – decisions that are made at a local and individual level.

Conference welcomes the leadership shown by other governments, notably the Biden Administration in the US, in persuading major economies to adopt more ambitious targets and in increasing climate finance, and applauds the fact that 127 countries have now announced net zero targets by mid-century at the latest.

Conference therefore calls on the UK government, as chair of CoP26, to:

  1. Press all governments to raise their short-term targets for emissions reductions, and to adopt net zero targets, in line with the commitments they made under the Paris Agreement.
  2. Propose the inclusion of a dedicated chapter for local governments in the official agreement reached at COP26, recognising the importance of subnational actors in co-designing and delivering climate action and seeking to ensure that local government is politically and financially empowered to meet that ambition.
  3. Ensure that developed countries fulfil their pledge to deliver at least $100 billion per year to help developing countries decarbonise their economies and protect against climate impacts.
  4. Foster the formation of coalitions of like-minded countries to advance specific emission-cutting goals, such as phasing out coal or protecting forests.
  5. Reach agreement on an international framework to protect poor nations against climate change impacts and compensate them for damages.
  6. Develop mechanisms to shift investment from fossil fuel use into clean energy, including by aiming to reach international agreement on:
    1. Banning new listings of, and bond issuances for, fossil fuel companies producing, processing or distributing coal, oil or gas whose primary purpose is for energy or transport.
    2. Requiring such firms already listed to produce within two years coherent plans to reach net zero in line with the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE, 1.5°C) that notes no new investment is needed in any new coal, oil and gas, anywhere, as from now.
    3. Requiring fossil fuel company boards and their bankers to report on when they will cease investment in new fossil fuels, and for this to be put to an annual vote of shareholders.
    and by introducing such measures in the UK.

Conference also calls on the UK government to take steps urgently to increase its credibility and effectiveness as chair of the conference by:

  1. Announcing a comprehensive strategy to meet the UK's own net zero target, including in particular urgent action to reduce emissions from buildings, industry, aviation, surface transport and agriculture, food and land use, and also a wide-ranging strategy for adaptation to climate impacts.
  2. Committing to empower local governments and municipal authorities through a shared fiscal and policy framework between central and local government to meet net zero targets and climate adaptation priorities.
  3. Working together as closely as possible with the UK's neighbours in the EU, including adopting joint targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cooperating in policy frameworks such as emissions trading schemes and border carbon adjustment mechanisms, thereby increasing the UK's weight in the international negotiations.

Applicability: Federal.

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