PM returns to COP26 for green transport talks - after taking private jet from summit

10 November 2021, 07:09 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 15:47

The Prime Minister flew back from COP26 last week
The Prime Minister flew back from COP26 last week. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to return to the COP26 summit for a series of announcements on low-carbon travel - after controversially taking a private jet back from the summit last week.

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Wednesday is "transport day" at the UN climate summit, with a number of measures such as "green shipping corridors" and new rules on heavy good vehicles due to be announced.

But Boris Johnson fell under heavy criticism last week when he took a private plane back to London from COP26 in order to have dinner with friend and former Telegraph editor Charles Moore.

He was accused of "staggering hypocrisy" by Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds, who said the Prime Minister "clocked off from COP26, jumped in his private jet and flew down to London".

Ms Dodds also pointed out that Mr Moore was a "self-confessed climate change sceptic".

It is not known how the Prime Minister will travel to Glasgow on Wednesday.

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Ahead of the travel announcements, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said travel, including aviation, should be "guilt free".

He also said the Government did not see flying as "the ultimate evil" despite is being "presented" as such.

He also debunked the "idea that's been allowed to percolate that somehow if we're going to meet all these different carbon commitments we are going to need to get to the point where we all stay home", when speaking to The Telegraph.

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Among things set to be announced at COP26 on Wednesday are new rules for heavy goods vehicles sold in the UK, which will need to be zero emissions by 2040.

Thirty countries have also agreed to work together to make zero emissions vehicles the new normal, and plans for "green shopping corridors" will also be unveiled, marking a shift to zero emissions vessels.

As well as this, 14 states - that collectively make up for more than 40 per cent of global aviation emissions - have committed to a new decarbonisation target.

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Ahead of returning to COP26, Mr Johnson urged countries to "pull out all the stops" as negotiators prepare to scrutinise the first draft of a "cover decision" - a negotiated outcome to the talks that aims to boost climate action.

Negotiators are also trying to hammer out an agreement on the technical parts of the Paris Agreement - including common timeframes for emissions targets and agreed ways for countries to report on their progress.

There are also negotiations on providing finance for developing countries to cope with climate change.

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"Negotiating teams are doing the hard yards in these final days of Cop26 to turn promises into action on climate change," said the Prime Minister.

"There's still much to do. Today I'll be meeting with ministers and negotiators to hear about where progress has been made and where the gaps must be bridged.

"This is bigger than any one country and it is time for nations to put aside differences and come together for our planet and our people.

"We need to pull out all the stops if we're going to keep 1.5C within our grasp."

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The draft cover decision is being published into Wednesday morning.

Delegations are expected to be in contact with their leaders and capitals to discuss what their position on it will be - particularly in those countries whose leaders did not attend last week, such as China and Russia.

Countries are positioning themselves for the final days of negotiations, with Nick Mabey from climate think tank E3G suggesting "a high ambition outcome is still on the table".

A "High Ambition Coalition" of vulnerable countries and others including the US and Europe countries is calling for nations to submit action plans in line with limiting temperatures to 1.5C in the next year and long term plans to meet the target by 2023, though there is pushback from other countries.

The Prime Minister will be joined by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Glasgow, where he will meet with heads of delegations and other groups.