The Guardian view on new climate goals: a destination is not enough | Editorial

The Guardian view on new climate goals: a destination is not enough | Editorial

Bad decisions are harming the UK’s green credentials. Boris Johnson must get beyond targets if he wants be taken seriously

The starting gun has been fired. With a pledge to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, Boris Johnson’s government has begun the bidding process that will set the scene for the Cop26 climate talks. As Mr Johnson knows, November’s meeting in Glasgow is a chance for the host country and its leaders to shine. And so his government has taken the cue and announced a toughening of existing targets – in line with UK law and following advice from its advisers on the Committee on Climate Change – ahead of a virtual climate summit of 40 world leaders to be hosted by Joe Biden.

In the coming days, countries including the US and Japan are expected to present their nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, as plans to cut emissions over the next decade are known. The world will soon know a good deal more about our prospects of avoiding catastrophic warming of over 1.5C. But distracting as the geopolitical scenario may be, in particular the extraordinary transformation of American climate policy since Donald Trump’s defeat, this is not the time to ease the pressure on Mr Johnson. Instead, it must be drastically ramped up.

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