World is ‘dangerously close’ to running out of time to fix climate crisis, says Alok Sharma

The minister for Cop26 has defended the government’s plans on climate, and the decision to grant licenses for oil and gas fields

World is ‘dangerously close’ to running out of time to fix climate crisis, says Alok Sharma (Photo by SAM JAHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

We are “getting dangerously close” to running out of time to solve the climate crisis, the government’s climate lead has said.

Alok Sharma, the minister in charge of coordinating the Cop26 summit in Glasgow this November, has said the consequences of failing to tackle the crisis will be “catastrophic”.

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– In an interview with the Observer, Alok Sharma said the world is on the brink of climate catastrophe and that countries “have to act now”

– The minister for Cop26, the global climate summit which the UK is hosting later this year, said that “this is the moment” to take decisive action on climate change

– However, Sharma defended the government’s 2050 net zero target, which has been criticised as not ambitious enough, and the decision to continue granting licenses for oil and gas fields

– The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to publish a major new report on Monday which is expected to lay bare the dire reality of the climate crisis

– Sharma has also recently been criticised for his use of air travel while planning the Cop26 summit, after it emerged he has visited 30 countries since February

What’s been said?

In an interview with the Observer, Sharma said the consequences of not tackling the climate crisis would be “catastrophic”.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any other word for it. You’re seeing on a daily basis what is happening across the world. Last year was the hottest on record, the last decade the hottest decade on record.”

On the IPCC report which is due to be published Monday (9 August), Sharma said: “This is going to be the starkest warning yet that human behaviour is alarmingly accelerating global warming and this is why Cop26 has to be the moment we get this right. We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment,” Sharma warned, in his first major interview since taking charge of the climate talks.

“I don’t think we’re out of time but I think we’re getting dangerously close to when we might be out of time. We will see [from the IPCC] a very, very clear warning that unless we act now, we will unfortunately be out of time.”

On criticisms of the government’s plans to allow new oil and gas fields to be commissioned, Sharma said: “Future [fossil fuel] licences are going to have to adhere to the fact we have committed to go to net zero by 2050 in legislation. There will be a climate check on any licences.”

On this, Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said :“This is categorically the wrong approach, unnecessarily taking things down to the wire [in reaching net zero emissions by 2050]. Every year, every month, every day we delay makes the climate crisis more dangerous and expensive to resolve. How much better if the minister convinced everyone of the merits of investing instead in unpolluting jobs with a long-term future.”