British PM to call on leaders to build back ‘better,’ greener after coronavirus

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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 roundtable, Johnson will say via video link that world leaders will have an opportunity to announce new and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) - their intended reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - at a December summit.

Britain will co-host an event with the UN on December 12 to mark the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, which committed all countries to work to limit further rises in global temperatures.

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“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 and are calling on ministers to embed net zero into their coronavirus recovery plans.

The government has postponed a climate summit, COP26, that was due to take place in November by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will now take place November 2021 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, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who is serving as 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.”

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