Science

May promises greener aid spending in bid to tackle climate change

Theresa May said the world was ‘running out of time to act' to combat climate change.

Theresa May has committed to use the aid budget to help tackle climate change as she urged World leaders to follow the UK’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.

The Prime Minister will lead a session on climate change at the G20 summit in Osaka, calling on her counterparts to set their own net zero targets because the crisis requires an international response.

She will also lobby leaders as part of the UK’s bid to host the next international climate conference.

In an effort to show her commitment to the green agenda, Mrs May has committed that UK aid spending will be aligned with the conditions of the Paris climate change agreement.

G20 Trudeau 20190628
Leaders of the G20 pose for a family photo at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

Officials said that would mean that when roads or energy infrastructure are funded from the aid budget, the UK will consider the greenest way to do this and use the best materials and design to manage the impacts of climate change.

In her message to world leaders, Mrs May is expected to say: “The facts, which are clear, should guide us: we are running out of time to act.

“We need a five-fold increase on existing 2030 commitments to remain below 1.5 degrees of warming.

“In addition to stronger national commitments, we need determined implementation, and a change in how we invest.

“And we need to build resilience, both in our own societies and economies, and in the most vulnerable countries.

“So I urge everyone here to push for ambition and consider setting their own net zero targets.”

Mrs May has committed the UK to reach net zero by 2050, a target now written into law.

The UK is bidding in partnership with Italy to host the COP26 climate summit in 2020, a major gathering expected to attract up 30,000 delegates including 150 world leaders.

Turkey has a rival bid to host the summit and Mrs May will meet the country’s president Recep Tayyep Erdogan on the margins of the G20 on Saturday.

Mrs May’s Government has said it has the advantage because the UK has the world’s most concentrated grouping of scientific, civil society and business expertise on climate change that would help develop the programme and objectives for the summit.

Setting out the UK’s position, Mrs May will tell the G20: “These next few years are critical. This is why tackling this crisis has become such a high priority for the UK.

“And it is why we have offered to preside over COP26, in partnership with Italy.

“As the first real test of our collective commitment at Paris to continually scale-up our emission reduction efforts over time, COP26 will be a critical moment.

“We will need to see both a significant ramping up in our existing medium term targets at the country level, and credible plans for what we are doing now to meet existing targets.

“Our citizens – and our youth in particular, whose lives will be shaped immeasurably by climate change – demand action. We will be judged by history on how we act in the next few years.”

Mrs May, who had a “forthright” exchange with Vladimir Putin on Friday, will have another controversial meeting on Saturday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A senior British official said the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would feature in the talks.

“Iran will obviously figure .. and the Khashoggi investigation,” the official said.

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