It was a week of lofty ambitions and stark realities regarding the climate crisis. While the UK, EU and US tightened existing emissions goals, the International Energy Agency warned levels of CO2 could soar to near-record levels in 2021 – a reminder of the challenge ahead.
The UK government committed to slashing emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 (compared with 1990 levels), which is more ambitious than the current 68 per cent goal. For the first time, aviation and shipping emissions will be included in the legally binding target. How the UK government plans to achieve its objective, particularly with airport expansions and other CO2-intensive infrastructure projects in the pipeline, remains to be seen, and many remain unconvinced.
In Brussels, the EU set a less ambitious 55 per cent target, disappointing campaigners. President Biden, meanwhile, pledged to halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Many hoped he would go further.
The targets were met cautiously by campaigners, who said that radical action was urgently required to meet them. “Targets for cutting emissions are important, but without the right policies they won’t be met,” said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Connor Schwartz. “The UK government is already struggling to meet its existing, less ambitious climate goals.”
Image: Karsten Wurth