Boris Johnson needs to “get out of the lounger and start being a statesman” with less than three weeks before the Cop26 global climate change summit in Glasgow, Ed Miliband said on Wednesday.
With Johnson on vacation in Spain, the shadow trade secretary will say the UK is in danger of allowing “greenwashing” in Cop26, with insufficient promises from countries around the world so far for the summit to be a success.
Speaking at a Green Alliance event, the former Labor leader will ask why there is little public clarity on what Johnson hopes to achieve at Cop26 as the government has not presented its net zero strategy for the UK so far and is stalling ” miles away from where it should be ”in international commitments.
Johnson has been making calls to world leaders about his Cop26 climate action from his holiday villa in Marbella, which was loaned to him by the Environment Minister and his conservative colleague Zac Goldsmith. He spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
However, Miliband said the government must do more to get world leaders to promise big emissions reductions ahead of the summit, which will be held for two weeks starting October 31.
He said there was “undeniable and terrifying Glasgow math” that it was estimated that less than four gigatons of emissions had been promised so far, yet the required reduction was closer to 28 gigatons.
“We cannot allow Cop26 to be the greenwashing summit,” he said. “It is time for the Prime Minister to get up from his deck, be a statesman and make Glasgow the success we need. This summit must be successful. Can still.
“But we need a radical change in the action of our government and governments around the world. Above all, finally, at the 11th hour, the prime minister must treat this summit with the seriousness it deserves ”.
He said the government’s central task was to close the gap between the aggregated country-by-country goals and the high-level ambition of the Paris Cop summit.
Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, has been meeting with politicians from around the world in an attempt to make ambitious promises, but the leader of the Cop host country often has to get involved in the main preparations and the talks themselves.
Miliband said that the government so far has been “at best bystanders and at worst, a contributor to global inaction.”
He added: “When trust between developed and developing countries is the key to success, and we need to persuade others to step up climate finance, the UK made the disastrous decision to cut the aid budget, the only G7 country that did it.
“When we tell all the major emitters to act, the UK has made a trade deal with Australia that allows them to remove the Paris temperature commitments from the text. When we have rightly made past coal a focus of our presidency, at the same time the government has flirted with a new coal mine in Cumbria. “
He also said that the energy crisis was already affecting families and companies with higher prices, and that a failure to comply with the Cop26 would mean a new crisis for the economy in the coming decades.
Referring to the dispute between Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, over whether to bail out companies affected by high energy costs, Miliband added: “Ministers are pitting each other when they should turn to outside to engage with industry and act intervening. We cannot sit back and watch entire British industries crash through the wall. “
A government spokesman said addressing climate change was a personal international priority for Johnson. “He has made it clear that Cop26 must be the time for all countries and all sectors of society to assume their responsibility to protect our shared future and looks forward to meeting with leaders, from major emitters to climate-vulnerable nations, to ensure that Cop26 counts “.