Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Climate change considerations not yet embedded across Government, Committee say

On Friday 29 October – the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) – the Environment and Climate Change Committee wrote to the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President, to highlight concerns about cross-Government delivery of the event and climate change policy more widely.

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The Committee received submissions from nine Government departments setting out what they see as their roles in preparing for COP26, and how they are developing climate-credible policies as part of the inquiry. The Committee also heard evidence from Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park and COP26 CEO Peter Hill.

The letter

The Committee say not all departments are as yet sufficiently embedding climate change into their policy-making processes and it is unclear how the centre of Government is firmly holding departments to account on related policies. The Committee add: “On that basis it is hard to conclude—despite heroic efforts from some individuals—that the delivery of COP26 across Government will be equal to the scale of the challenge.”
The Committee raise the following issues:

  • The absence of an effective machinery of Government for climate change issues, which has hindered preparation for COP26 and limited the Government’s wider progress on climate change.
  • The lack of clarity on what will be considered the minimum benchmarks for success at COP26.
  • The need to develop plans to get on a path to 1.5°C, if, as appears probable, COP26 does not secure the commitments necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and the need to adapt to the consequences should that not be achieved.
  • It being unclear whether there are enough staff with the necessary expertise devoted to climate change issues across Government.
  • There being no indication of a strategic approach to public engagement for COP26 or on climate change and nature more widely.
  • That the Government may not be seeking to maximise the links between the tackling climate change and restoring nature, despite an opportunity to do so presented by the delay to the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15.

Baroness Parminter, chair of the committee, also wrote to the Leader of the House of Lords last week to express disappointment about “unsatisfactory” government cooperation with its inquiry into COP26.

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