The UK’s climate champion, Nigel Topping, says he is stubbornly optimistic that the world will converge on an agreement to forge a transition to a net zero future at the UN climate talks later this year.
Topping’s role in the run-up to the UN Cop26 climate summit, to be held in Glasgow in November, is to drive and encourage action from businesses, civil society, and local and regional government on climate change.
Topping acknowledges the need to be sanguine about the fact that the world has not done enough and is running out of time. “But I am a stubborn optimist,” he said.
Topping, who was appointed the UK’s climate champion by Boris Johnson last year, said: “We do know what needs to be done, we do have solutions and we are rapidly seeing the whole world converge on an agreement.
“Most commentators haven’t studied history enough to see that these complicated industrial transformations have always seemed to take forever to start, but then have gone very quickly.”
Topping and his fellow climate champion, Chile’s Gonzalo Muñoz, are leading the so-called Race to Zero, a global campaign to rally support and commitments for a net zero future and emissions limits for the next decade.
Topping says he is “soapboxing” to drum up as much support as possible from city leaders, regional governments, business and civil society to support the transition to net zero.
The UK government has committed to reaching net zero by 2050, and recently announced it will reduce emissions 78% by 2035 compared with 1990 levels in a move to spur action ahead of Cop26.
At Cop26, nations will be asked to set out national plans for carbon curbs over the next 10 years.
“Transformational change starts with bold targets, then you have got to seal in the policies. That is quite normal in politics,” said Topping.
Public support for the changes needed to transform economies to net zero was vital, said Topping.
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