PM accused of hypocrisy over claim that environment is ‘foremost priority’

Boris Johnson put the global climate crisis at the heart of the UK’s diplomacy on Tuesday, setting out his vision of “worldwide Britain” after a federal government evaluation put environment as “the UK’s foremost global top priority”.

The prime minister told MPs: “We will host Cop26 [environment top] in Glasgow in November, and rally as numerous nations as possible behind the target of net absolutely no [greenhouse gas emissions] by 2050, leading by example since the UK was the very first major economy to accept this obligation in law.”

However, green advocates questioned whether the prime minister’s rhetoric was matched by action, and implicated him of “hypocrisy” over steps that could increase greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and overseas.

The integrated review of security, defence, advancement and foreign policy, released on Tuesday, is the very first post-Brexit assessment of the UK’s role on the world phase, and represents the federal government’s view of how Britain will assist to shape global relations and tackle worldwide issues for decades to come.

This year, the UK takes on an essential role in the increasingly immediate fight for environment action, hosting crucial UN environment talks, called Cop26, the most important climate meeting considering that the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, along with holding the presidency of the G7 group of countries.

The declaration in the review that environment was now “the UK’s foremost worldwide priority” will provide an increase to civil servants in the UK and in embassies around the world, who have actually been stepping up the seriousness of preparations for Cop26. The review likewise made it clear that strong action would be required within the UK to meet environment targets, stressing the need to “speed up the UK’s shift to net no by 2050”, and indicating ₤ 12bn of spending on tasks from green public transportation and offshore wind, to electric automobiles and hydrogen technology.

Alok Sharma, president-designate of Cop26, tweeted: “Delighted to see dealing with climate change and biodiversity loss as the UK’s number 1 international concern in the integrated review. As hosts of Cop26, the UK is committed to protecting our path to worldwide net zero.”

All abroad help is to be aligned with the goals of the Paris contract, which will consist of phasing out support for fossil fuels, and the UK will also prioritise the health of worldwide ecosystems, maintaining biodiversity, and the health of the oceans. Complying with China on the climate crisis was also singled out in the evaluation as a key priority.

Lord Nicholas Stern, the environment financial expert, said: “It is right that the UK government must make taking on climate change and biodiversity loss its top diplomacy priorities since both position growing dangers to lives and livelihoods around the globe. It is likewise tremendously crucial to invest in structure and maintaining long-term relationships between the people of the UK and individuals of China.”

However, advocates said the government’s green rhetoric was at odds with many recent ministerial actions. The government is embroiled in a row over its assistance for a brand-new coalmine, while cutting abroad aid, planning new gas-fired power stations and thousands of miles of roads, and cutting taxes on flights. Recently, the UK is likewise understood to have assisted the former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann, who has actually frequently revealed hostility to climate action, to be appointed head of the OECD group of abundant countries, despite strong opposition from green groups.

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, stated: “Political and financial backing for coal, oil and gas requires to stop, in your home and globally, prior to the UK can congratulate itself on being an environment leader.”

Mohamed Adow, director of the Power Shift Africa thinktank, stated establishing nations would view the UK’s actions instead of “greenwash” declarations. “When you in fact take a look at what this federal government is doing it’s tough to take these claims seriously,” he stated. “Authorizing the Cumbrian coalmine, the messed up green houses grant plan and extremely little on environment in the recent budget plan, while slashing the help budget plan and backing a climate blocker to become the brand-new boss of the OECD. Boris Johnson likes to talk about developing back better. This is a distinct chance to have a truly green healing from Covid-19 but up until now they are failing miserably to measure up to that.”

Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, indicated other elements of the review, which enhanced defence costs. “It’s welcome that the federal government states environment is its ‘primary priority’, however increasing nuclear warheads and upgrading high-speed rockets is a funny method of revealing it.”

Tim Wainwright, president of WaterAid UK, stated: “The government has a chance as host of the G7 and Cop26 to lead by example and provide on their promises. Now is not the time to turn our backs on those who need us most.”

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