Rising to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together

COP26 Alok Sharma's remarks at a press conference hosted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, following the end of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue

The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP

Good afternoon everyone.

Let me start by echoing the sentiments of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where he spoke about the fact that the Petersberg Dialogue is a testament to Chancellor Merkel’s legacy.

From presiding over the first COP to creating the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which, I think we can all appreciate, has become one of the most established moments in the international climate calendar.

The Chancellor’s personal contribution to tackling the climate crisis should be recognised.

Which now brings me to this year’s Petersberg Dialogue.

Petersberg XII. This was the biggest so far.

And indeed, even before the main ministerial meeting began we have had an impressive series of 8 satellite events.

I want to thank my dear friend Minister Schulze and for her personal leadership and for us working so closely together on this agenda.

As Svenja said, we have had ministers speaking and, of course, they said the right things, which is encouraging.

Even virtually, I could see and I could hear that there is a strong political will to take action on the climate crisis and its crippling effects which face all of us across the world.

We all know that this decade is absolutely key and that is why we have already spelt out our pathway to Glasgow to COP26 in November.

Our key aim is to keep the chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees alive.

We want to adapt to the impacts of the changing climate

And to ensure the money, finance, is available to deliver on these aims.

The UK is working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change.

I personally have met, virtually, physically with 115 Ministers around the world since my appointment.

And we all know that more than 190 countries, world leaders and their delegations will arrive in Glasgow in Scotland in November.

And this will be the largest international political gathering that the United Kingdom has ever hosted.

And it’s only six months to go.

And so I want to talk to you briefly through our around the four goals we want to achieve on the road and at COP26.

First, we need to secure global net zero by mid-century so that we can keep the 1.5 degrees within reach.

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.

And I’m urging all countries – especially the major emitters - to come forward with ambitious emissions reduction commitments.

We are also working to accelerate the end of coal use, to accelerate the take up of zero emission vehicles, to curb deforestation, and encourage investment in renewables.

Secondly, we want to see moves to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.

The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, and this is likely to have some devastating effects.

On the road to COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries, and communities and businesses affected by climate change to build those defences, to put in place the warning systems and the resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid the loss of life and livelihoods.

Third, we must have enough finance. This is absolutely vital. I cannot emphasise this point enough.

To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to provide $100bn in climate finance per year.

Both Governments and international financial institutions must play their part – and we must keep the promises that have been made and deliver on that.

But we also need to work towards unleashing the trillions of dollars in private finance required to secure global net zero.

And fourth, we must work together to deliver on these goals.

We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together.

And frankly, friends, we must apply the same urgency to fighting climate change which we have applied to fighting the coronavirus.

At COP26 we must complete the Paris Rulebook, and accelerate action to tackle the climate change crisis, through collaboration between governments, with businesses and, incredibly importantly, civil society as well.

We have made some tangible progress together over the past two days, but I am urging all parties, all countries to maintain that momentum and collectively step up our efforts to find solutions.

We know what needs to be done.

But we also know that time is not on our side.

To help us reach agreement, I will be tasking ministers to take forward certain issues in the negotiations ahead of Glasgow.

I want to thank Minister Fu and Minister Koizumi for taking on the task of consulting with parties on Article 6.

I will be announcing other pairings on key topics in the coming weeks.

I also intend to convene a representative group of ministers again in-person in July to make further progress on these key issues that require a political resolution.

Under the UK’s presidency this year, G7 members have had important conversations on climate change.

And it is really great to see that all G7 members have now committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, reinforced by strong near-term 2030 targets.

And I very much welcome Germany’s proposal to achieve net zero by 2045, achieving 65% emissions cuts by 2030 and 88% by 2040 respectively.

The UK has already pledged to slash emissions by 78% by 2035 and, very importantly, enshrined this in law.

As Prime Minister Johnson made clear yesterday, we must arrive in Glasgow having done our homework.

It is absolutely clear that finance is going to be crucial and I am calling on all G7 leaders to go further ahead of the Leaders’ Summit this June.

Donor countries must consider what it is like to walk in the feet of communities in developing countries, who are on the front line of climate change.

I’ve visited some of these communities. Their homes, livelihoods, their very lives are at risk.

And we have to remember that these communities and countries have contributed least to climate change.

So overall, in conclusion, we need to create the conditions so that the world is ready to reach agreement on an ambitious, on a comprehensive, and balanced set of outcomes that deliver a cleaner, greener world for our people and our planet.

And we must ensure that no one and no issue is left behind in Glasgow.

Cabinet Office
The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP