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Initial responses to COP26 agreement question if there is sufficient commitment to minimise climate change to 1.5 deg C, while backing more ambitious heat and building insulation policies

The conclusion of the COP26 International Climate Change Conference has resulted in fresh global commitments to decarbonisation under the new Glasgow Climate Pact.

However, an influential group of MPs focused on environmental issues has said that the commitments, which include aims to introduce deeper cuts in worldwide carbon emissions over the next decade, should be backed by ambitious national commitments to heat, buildings and energy.

MP Philip Dunne, Chair of parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, said the agreement reflected a global consensus on the need to step up action on climate change – notably around issues such as reducing a reliance on coal as a source of energy.

He said that stronger national commitments would be vital to try and ensure that there was a realistic chance of limiting a rise in average global temperature by 1.5 deg C of pre-industrial levels, while also supporting nations that may be more susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

Mr Dunne also warned against complacency in terms of the scope of commitments to rethink how buildings, vehicles and vital infrastructure are powered.

He said, “The time for warm words and sentiment is over: we must make sure the Glasgow Climate Pact leads to lasting change.”

“Every country must now review its domestic policies to keep emissions down and embed environmental improvement. From how we generate energy to decarbonising transport, our consumption habits to heating and insulating our homes: the opportunities are endless to embrace innovation and deliver a prosperous decarbonised economy.”

A major focus for the Environmental Audit Committee over the coming weeks and months will now be to scrutinise and review the details of the pact and how it may need to impact vital government policy, according to Mr Dunne.

He added, “We will continue to hold the government to account to ensure it meets the many commitments made in Glasgow over the last fortnight.”

UK Cop26 role

The UK Government played a vital role in hosting COP26 in Glasgow with Conservative MP Alok Sharma serving as president of the conference. Authorities have claimed that the resulting pact made at the conference should be seen as a historic commitment with 65 countries pledging to phase out use of coal power.

The government claimed that “all major coal financing countries” had committed to ending coal finance by the year’s end with US$20bn being committed to cleaner power sources.

It stated, “There is now more work to be done to ensure all major emitters sign up to phase out coal.”

Environmental NGO Greenpeace said COP26 was intended to be a big moment to close the policy gap on limiting global climate change to 1.5 deg C. However, it argued that this ambition had arguably not been realised, even with a signal of ambitions to end coal use outright.

Greenpeace stated, “The compromise in the Glasgow Climate Pact on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies is weak, but it is the first time a call for coal reduction appears on a COP final text. “

A commitment by 2030 to end emissions reductions by 45 per cent of 2010 levels and a full net zero shift by the middle of the century were seen by the NGO as being in line with ambitions to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 deg C.

Greenpeace added, “But countries need to specify how much and by when they will cut emissions.

Associations and trade bodies representing the UK building engineering sector have used COP26 to call on the government to introduce stronger commitments to supporting low carbon heating alternatives and to retrofit existing homes to be more energy and thermal efficient.

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