BORIS Johnson’s inability for his government to secure a more meaningful commitment to end coal at COP26 was “hampered by his actions at home,” said Sir Keir Starmer.
The British government, which hosted the Glasgow summit as president, was forced to concede late changes to the global deal when China-backed India watered down its pledge to “phase out” coal for simply âeliminateâ the harmful fossil fuel. .
But speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister said the COP26 summit had “proven the skeptics and cynics wrong”, boasting that “we have secured a global commitment to phase out coal”.
But Mr Johnson admitted that “until the very end there was a real prospect that no deal would be reached”, as he attributed the success to “months of concerted British diplomacy”.
He added: “Again and again, the job of our negotiators was done earlier by the UK not asking anyone to do something that we are not doing ourselves.”
The Prime Minister also addressed a “big, big thank you to the people of Glasgow” who, he underlined, “had to endure so much disruption in their city and to welcome the world”.
He added: “I say to the people of Glasgow, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
READ MORE: COP26: Boris Johnson admits deal ‘tinged with disappointment’ after coal changes
But the PM added that there was still a lot of work to be done – with the UK government chairing the COP until next year’s summit in Egypt.
He said: “This work will not be finished until the whole world has not only set itself the goal of reaching net zero, but reaches that destination – a goal which, even with the best intentions of all players, cannot be reached overnight.
âIf COP26 filled me with optimism about our ability to get there, I cannot now claim to be sure, because we have seen countries that should really know better how to drag their feet on their commitments in Paris.
“If, and it’s still a huge, if, they keep their promises, then I think Glasgow will be remembered as the place where we made a historic deal and the world started to turn the tide.”
But the Labor leader called the Glasgow deal “modest progress” in ensuring that global warming is contained below the 1.5 Â° C tipping point.
He said: âThe commitments made in Glasgow for 2030, while all fully implemented, represent less than 25% of the ambition required.
READ MORE: COP26: India and China will have to “explain themselves” after the switch to fossil fuels
“Rather than a manageable 1.5C, they set us on the right track for a devastating 2.4C.”
Sir Keir stressed that “those who dragged their feet the most”, such as China and India, “bear the greatest responsibility”.
But he warned that “the summit was held back by the prime minister’s unflinching boosterism”, which “only served to embolden the big emitters”.
The Labor leader stressed that Mr Johnson called Australia’s plan, which is consistent with unthinkable 4 Â° C warming, “heroic”.
Sir Keir said: “The Prime Minister was unlikely to exert influence over other major emitters.”
The opposition leader called on the prime minister to ensure that there were “no free passes” for major emitters, “including our friends”.
He added: âWe are entering into a trade deal with Australia where we have allowed them to abandon Paris temperature commitments. It was a mistake.
READ MORE: Calls for Sturgeon and Johnson to set a date to end demand for oil and gas
âHis ability to lead the issue internationally has been hampered by his actions in his country.
“It never made sense for the government to flirt with a new coal mine or give the green light to the Cambo oil field.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford stressed that if the British government is to ensure that commitments are honored by nations, “the example of this leadership must start at home”.
He said: âBefore the break, the Prime Minister has pledged to review the issue of investments in tidal energy.
READ MORE: SNP’s vision of tidal power threatened by technology ‘gaps’ deterring private investors
“So now that he’s probably looked at that, can he commit to a Â£ 71million tidal power segregated fund today as part of the contracts for difference process?
“And finally on carbon capture and storage.
“Last week Ineos added his voice to the growing shock and anger that tack 1 status for the Acorn project has been rejected by this UK government – will the Prime Minister therefore reverse this devastating decision and support the Scottish cluster? ”
READ MORE: Warning SNP may need to redesign its climate strategy after carbon capture snub
The Prime Minister said the Acorn project in the Scottish Cluster for Carbon Capture “remains a serious competitor” for funding.
He added that he was “interested in tidal power”.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I think he is correct that the government should invest to make sure that we have a tidal power industry in this country in the same way that we have a tidal power industry in this country. wind and solar power.
“All the evidence is that the costs are going down.”