The UK is centre stage in the lead up to COP26. As host, the UK will be tasked with trying to build consensus at the summit to ensure its success, but there has already been some criticism of the UK's approach to COP26 from certain stakeholders.
Alok Sharma, the President of COP26 will play a major role in this, recently stressing that “the biggest challenge of our time is climate change and we need to work together to deliver a cleaner, greener world and build back better for present and future generations. Through the UK’s presidency of COP26 we have a unique opportunity, working with friends and partners around the world, to deliver on this goal."
Ahead of COP26 the UK updated its NDC in December 2020, committing to cutting the UK's carbon emissions by 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This is a 15% increase from the UK's previous target of a 53% cut in carbon emissions by 2030. The Prime Minister also outlined the UK's initial plan to reach net zero by 2050, although a detailed strategy is yet to be published (following the UK's December 2020 Energy White Paper).
The UK's main piece of legislation on climate change is the Climate Change Act 2008 (the "Act"). It established the UK's legally binding target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet its net zero commitment by 2050. The Act provides for a system of carbon budgeting which limits the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a five-year period. The Sixth Carbon Budget report was published in December 2020 and calls for a dramatic increase in the UK's ambition to reduce UK territorial emissions by bringing forward the UK's previous 80% reduction target by nearly 15 years.