Starmer pledges that under a Labour government, the UK will once again lead in addressing climate change.
The UK will come back strongly to the world stage to “lead from the front” in tackling the climate crisis under a Labour government, Keir Starmer has pledged, after meeting world leaders at the Cop28 summit in Dubai.
At the UN climate talks, the Guardian interviewed a politician who shared that world leaders have a strong desire to see the UK take on a prominent role once again. The statement made by the Labour party to reclaim this leading position has been positively received.
“When we talk about being a leader in this situation, we are referring to leading through setting a positive example.”
Starmer restated Labour’s pledge to allocate £28 billion annually towards environmentally-friendly initiatives by the conclusion of the following parliamentary term. This goal has faced criticism from both the Conservative party and certain Labour members. Additionally, Labour aims to fully transition to clean energy by 2030.
“I have made a firm promise to implement renewable energy by the year 2030. This will be a top priority for the upcoming Labour government. We have consistently remained dedicated to this goal and the £28 billion investment is a crucial step towards achieving it,” he stated.
“This is a real sense of mission under an incoming Labour government. We’ve only got five missions, one of them is clean power, so that’s how important it is to us.”
On Sunday, he encountered John Kerry, the US envoy for climate affairs, Hillary Clinton, a previous US secretary of state, and António Guterres, the head of the United Nations.
Starmer participated in the summit for three days, where he met with over 150 world leaders and government officials. Among those in attendance were Mia Mottley, the highly sought-after prime minister of Barbados and a key figure in the discussions, as well as Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned climate advocate, and influential international investors interested in investing in clean energy in the UK.
In comparison, Sunak attended the conference for only 12 hours, which is believed to be the largest gathering focused on climate change. The prime minister of the UK had a few one-on-one meetings, primarily with countries in the Middle East such as Jordan and Qatar.
Starmer stated that the public has taken notice of their presence and efforts over the past two to three days, building relationships and engaging in important discussions. This is in contrast to the prime minister, who only briefly visited and did not make a significant impact during their time here.
He criticized Sunak for withdrawing from global affairs and relying on the accomplishments of past leaders. Sunak has frequently declared himself as a “climate leader” due to the UK’s decrease in emissions, however, the majority of these reductions were made during previous prime minister’s terms. The UK is currently not on track to meet its goals.
Starmer stated that Sunak had utilized the actions taken by the UK as a means of protecting against further action. He also suggested using it as a tool to influence the global community.
Despite this, Starmer has not committed to providing additional funds to developing nations, which are in dire need to address the effects of the climate emergency. The Labour party has stated that they anticipate Chancellor Sunak to fulfill the promise made by Boris Johnson to provide £11.6 billion in aid to developing countries by 2025. However, if the Labour party is elected, Starmer will likely face immense pressure to make even larger commitments to support developing nations at future climate conferences.
The Labour party accused Sunak of violating the long-standing agreement among UK political parties regarding the climate crisis. Starmer stated that their goal is to revive this consensus, but they will do so by taking the lead. Other parties are welcome to join them, as there are influential members in other parties who support the idea of a Labour government taking the lead on this issue.
Zac Goldsmith, a former climate minister and current Conservative peer, believes that many others share his viewpoint and will respond to the request. He stated, “Sunak’s choice to disrupt the unity across party lines that we have had for years was not only a poor political decision – his approval ratings dropped soon after – but it was also ethically wrong and did a great disservice to the country and future generations.” He continued, “Keir Starmer is completely correct in pledging to restore this cooperation as prime minister, and I am confident that he will have plenty of support from all parties.”
Sunak has faced allegations from influential Conservative members, as well as global monitors and Gore, for jeopardizing the Cop’s primary objective of gradually eliminating fossil fuels by significantly expanding the issuance of licenses for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
The United Arab Emirates is currently hosting Cop28, which began last Thursday and will conclude on December 12th.
Negotiators and high-ranking officials from several countries at the summit told of their frustration and anger with the UK’s climate stance under Sunak. For decades, the UK has taken a central role at UN climate summits, hosting Cop26 in Glasgow in 2021 and leading negotiations on behalf of the whole EU in talks that led to the landmark Paris agreement in 2015.
During Cop28, senior negotiators expressed their disappointment with the UK’s lack of presence and leadership, stating that it has undermined their efforts. One even went as far as to say that the UK has wasted the progress made at Cop26, which is a shared concern among others.