Mr Biden used a climate conference attended by 40 world leaders including Vladimir Putin to pledge to cut US greenhouse gas emissions in half compared to 2005 output within the next decade, a move the Prime Minister hailed as ‘game-changing’.
The US reduction – estimated to be around a 41-44 per cent cut on 1990 levels – is part of a national climate plan, which it is submitting as part of its return to the Paris climate accord, the world’s first comprehensive climate treaty which Donald Trump quit when he was president.
But the Prime Minister has already faced criticism over his own plans which go far further than those of the US. Mr Johnson has set out the UK’s moves to cut greenhouse gases by 78 per cent of 1990 levels by 2035.
According to advice from the UK Government’s advisory Climate Change Committee (CCC), delivering on Mr Johnson’s target will mean radical changes including an end to heating homes with natural gas boilers, eating less meat and dairy produce, and switching to electric cars. Critics said it would cost £10,000 to upgrade homes and mean a cut in foreign holidays.
But Mr Johnson urged the world’s richest nations to embrace climate action for the sake of growth and jobs today – as he told them it was not just about ‘bunny-hugging’.
‘I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy and there is obviously going to be a political challenge,’ the PM told assembled world leaders.
‘It’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging, or however you want to put it, there’s nothing wrong with bunny hugging.
‘What I’m driving at is this is about growth and jobs, and I think the President (Biden) was absolutely right to stress that.
‘We can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener.’
The two-day US-led summit also heard from leaders of major economies including China, Japan, Russia, Canada, India and Australia.
As part of diplomatic efforts in the lead up to the summit, the US and China issued a statement pledging to work together and with other countries on the issue.
The Prime Minister announced a ‘world-leading’ target for the UK to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035
The Prime Minister made the remarks as he addressed Joe Biden’s virtual gathering of world leaders, at which the president vowed to halve US emissions by 2030.
What Boris Johnson’s green targets mean for YOUR life and wallet
Target – Cut meat and dairy consumption by a fifth over the next decade
Impact – Someone who has meat for every three meals could only do this twice a week under the new plans.
Similarly, the average Briton would need to shave a fifth of the average milk consumption down to 16ml a day – or roughly three teaspoons.
Target – Ban new fossil-fuelled cars – including hybrids – by 2033
Impact – The average cost of buying a new electric car in the UK is £44,000, according to industry figures.
Target – Ban the sale of oil-fired boilers by 2028 and gas boilers by 2033; require all homes to be insulated
Impact – Energy efficiency measures – such as improving insulation and installing low carbon boilers – could cost £10,000 per home.
Target – Stop expanding UK airport capacity and impose a frequent flyer levy with the aim of reducing the number of flights by 15%
Impact – The average Briton currently takes 10 foreign holidays every five years, which would need to reduce to around 8. This is the equivalent of around three foreign holidays every two years.
Among the countries bringing forward new targets were Japan, whose prime minister Yoshihide Suga said its target would be a 46 per cent cut on 2013 levels, compared to an earlier 26 per cent goal, with efforts to push the reduction as high as 50 per cent.
Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau announced his country’s new target of slashing carbon emissions by 40 per cent to 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, saying it was “on track to blow past” the old target of a 30 per cent cut.
The European Union has agreed a new climate law which includes a goal to cut its emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 on 1990 levels.
Mr Johnson set out the UK’s moves to cut greenhouse gases by 78 per cent by 2035.
‘As host of Cop26 we want to see similar ambitions around the world, we are working with everybody from the smallest nations to the biggest emitters to secure commitments that will keep change to within 1.5C,’ he said.
‘I think we can do it, to do it we need scientists in all of our countries to work together to produce the technological solutions that humanity is going to need,’ he said, pointing to technology to store carbon and cheap hydrogen.
He added: ‘It will mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the 100 billion US dollar commitment that they already made in 2009’ to support developing countries, stressing how important that was.
It comes ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.
President Biden told the summit it could help build a more prosperous, equitable society, stressing the jobs that could be created.
‘The signs are unmistakeable, the science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting.
‘The United States isn’t waiting, we are resolving to take action, not only our federal government but our cities and our states all across our country, small business, large corporations, American workers in every field,’ he said.
He said the US only represented 15 per cent of the world’s emissions and that no nation can solve the crisis on its own.
All 40 world leaders invited by the White House were in attendance, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, who addressed the summit
There was an odd moment when it was time for Russian President Vladimir Putin to speak. He was introduced while French President Emmanuel Macron – in pretaped remarks – was still talking. Then Putin sat silently on screen as Biden sat quietly in the East Room with no one speaking; finally Putin spoke after being introduced again
President Joe Biden, center, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, right, listen during the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, from the East Room of the White House
The world leaders joined the Climate Summit virtually
Canada’s Prime Minster Justin Trudeau raised his country’s goal to of an emissions cut of 40%-45% by 2030 below 2005 levels, up from 30%
‘The science is undeniable’: Biden and Kamala Harris promise to slash US carbon emissions in HALF
President Joe Biden issued a call to action to world leaders on Thursday, asking them to work together to keep the earth’s temperature from rising too high in the next decade, arguing it would result in new jobs and economic opportunities.
‘The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction is mounting,’ he said in his speech kicking off his Climate Summit.
‘This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative,’ Biden argued. ‘Time is short, but I believe we can do this. And I believe that we will do. Thank you for being part of the summit.’
In his remarks, Biden stressed the importance of working together but also emphasized combatting climate change can create jobs and boost economies.
He spoke from the East Room of the White House, which was decorated with plants and greenery. Vice President Kamala Harris introduced him and he was joined by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and climate czar John Kerry. The attendees from around the world, joining him virtually, were on a screen in front of him.
Biden vowed the US would do its part, pledging the country will cut emissions blamed for climate change by 50 to 52 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels and to set America on a path of zero emissions economy by no later than 2015.
‘No nation can solve this crisis on our own, as I know you all fully understand all of us, all of us and particularly those of us who represent the world’s largest economies. We have to step up,’ he said.
‘All of us, particularly those who represent the world’s largest economies, we have to step up.
‘Those that do take action and make bold investments in their people, in clean energy futures, will win the good jobs of tomorrow and make their economies more resilient and more competitive.’
Countries have been expected to come forward with more ambitious plans up to 2030, known as nationally determined contributions (NDC) in the Paris deal, ahead of Cop26 in November.
That is because existing plans are not enough to meet countries’ commitments under the Paris deal to curb global temperature rises to ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels – or 1.5C if possible – and avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.
Chinese president Xi Jinping has called for a ‘people-centred’ approach to the climate crisis.
President Xi said: ‘We must treat nature as our root, respect it, protect it and follow its laws, we should protect nature and preserve the environment like we protect our eyes.
‘Second, we must be committed to green development – green mountains are gold mountains, to protect the environment is to protect productivity and to boost the environment is to boost productivity.
‘The truth is as simple as that.’
He added: ‘We must be committed to a people-centred approach, the environment concerns the wellbeing of people in all countries, we need to take into full account people’s desire for a better quality of life and good environment as well as our responsibility for future generations.’
Vladimir Putin told the climate summit that since the 1990s Russia has halved its annual carbon dioxide emissions from 3.1 billion tonnes to 1.6 billion tonnes, and could be carbon neutral as early as 2025.
‘This has become possible because of a fundamental restructuring of our industry and energy that has been under way for the last two decades,’ he said.
‘As a result, as of now, 45 per cent of our energy mix is accounted for by low-emission energy sources, including nuclear generation.’
Mr Putin said Russia planned to carry out a ‘large-scale campaign’ of environmental modernisation and greater efficiency across all sectors of its economy, including the use of carbon capture and storage from all carbon sources.
He continued: ‘We’re also building an infrastructure for producing hydrogen to be used both as a fuel, and an energy source.’
Mr Putin said Russia was also developing a carbon pricing and trading system, claiming such a system could allow Russia to be carbon neutral as early as 2025.
Boris Johnson’s ‘bunny-hugging’ climate speech in full
‘I’d like to begin by thanking President Biden very much for bringing us together today in the way that he has and for setting out the problem in the eloquent way that he did at the beginning, and of course for returning the United States to the front rank of the fight against climate change.
‘I’m really thrilled by the game-changing announcement that Joe Biden has just made. And I’m proud that the UK is doing the same.
‘We were first country to pass legislation for net zero. We have the biggest offshore wind capacity of any country in the world, the Saudi Arabia of wind as I never tire of saying. We’re halfway to net zero.
‘We have carbon emissions lower than at any point since the 19th century, we’re ending support for fossil fuels overseas and doubling our international climate finance. We’re actually speeding up because we see the obligations for developed countries to do more, we’re legislating to deliver 78% of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035.
‘As host of COP26, we want to see similar ambitions around the world and we’re working with everybody, from the smallest nations to the biggest emitters to secure commitments that will keep change to within 1.5 degrees.
‘And I think we can do it. And to do it we need the scientists and all of our countries to work together to produce the technological solutions that humanity is going to need.
‘Whether it’s carbon capture and storage or solving the problems of cheap hydrogen delivery or getting to jet zero flying, getting to net zero flying, making sure that we can roll out EVs properly, making sure that our homes stop emitting such prodigious quantities of CO2, moving to sustainable domestic living.
‘We can do this together across the world. It’s going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the $100 billion commitment that they already made in 2009 and I stress how important that is.
‘Plus, I think what President Xi had to say about the harmony with nature was absolutely vital. If we’re going to tackle climate change sustainably, we have to deal with the disaster of habitat loss and species loss across our planet and we want to see even more examples of government and private industry working hand in hand as with the newly launched LEAF Coalition to reduce deforestation and the multi-trillion dollar Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.
‘To do these things we’ve got to be constantly original and optimistic about new technology and new solutions whether that’s crops that are super-resistant to drought or more accurate weather forecasts like those we hope to see from the UK’s new Met Office 1.2bn supercomputer that we’re investing in.
‘I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy. There is obviously going to be a political challenge. It’s important to go back to the original words of President Biden, it’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive politically correct green act of ”bunny hugging” or however you want to put it. Nothing wrong with ”bunny hugging” but you know what I’m driving at.
‘This is about growth and jobs and the President was absolutely right to stress that. I want to leave you with the thought that we can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener.
‘Don’t forget that the UK has been able to cut our own CO2 emissions by about 42 per cent on 1990 levels and we’ve seen our economy grow by 73 per cent, you can do both at once. ”Cake have eat” is my message to you.
‘Let’s work together on this. Let’s go to Kunming in October and Glasgow in November armed with ambitious targets and the plans required to reach them.
‘And let’s use this extraordinary moment and the incredible technology that we’re working on to make this decade the moment of decisive change in the fight against climate change and let’s do it together.’
The cost to YOU of Boris’s green dream: To meet 80% reduction on carbon emissions by 2035 we’ll have to spend £10,000 upgrading our homes, drink three TEASPOONS of milk a day, eat meat just twice a week and barely fly once a year
Boris Johnson’s plans to slash the UK’s greenhouse emissions by nearly four-fifths in a decade sparked criticism today, as the PM was accused of ‘shameless virtue signalling’ and pursuing unreachable targets that would put the UK’s economic recovery at risk.
The Prime Minister has described the target to reduce emissions by 78% on 1990 levels by 2035, which will be set in law under the Government’s sixth carbon budget, as the most ambitious in the world.
The major changes that will be necessary to achieve the 78% CO2 reduction – as set out by a report by the Climate Change Committee – are detailed below.
Meat just twice a week if you want to have it for three meals a day
One measure to meet the emissions target includes requiring people to cut the amount of meat and dairy they eat by a fifth in the next decade, the CCC said.
Average meat consumption currently stands at 70g a day, according to the NHS, so reducing this by a fifth would equal 56g – approximately the weight of a chicken breast.
This means that someone who has meat for every three meals could only do this twice a week.
Similarly, the average Briton would need to shave a fifth of the average milk consumption down to 16ml a day – roughly three teaspoons.
Tory MP Peter Bone criticised the plan for meat and dairy when it was first proposed by the Climate Change Committee last year.
‘It’s the sort of thing that won’t happen because of government intervention. Maybe more people will move that way,’ Mr Bone said.
‘But government won’t say to people, ”you can only have dairy products five days a week”.’
Achieving the 80 per cent reduction will require major changes to industry, farming and homes – as well as planting more trees. One such measure includes encouraging people to cut the amount of meat and dairy they eat by a fifth in the next decade, the government’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) claimed (file image)
Mr Johnson, who drove a 15-year-old diesel car before entering government, has been determined to lead the world in reducing carbon emissions and the UK has pledged to reach net zero by 2050.
In February, it was revealed that the PM has ordered Whitehall departments to look at how much greenhouse gas emissions produced by different sectors of the economy cost society.
He pondered new carbon taxes and charges for Britain that would see higher prices on meat and cheese at the supermarket and on gas for their hobs and boilers at home.
At present, only airlines and power generators are charged for their emissions, but ministers want to extend the ‘polluter pays’ principle to all sectors. This could lead to a hike in prices for goods such as beef, lamb and cheese, or more heavily polluting forms of heating such as gas.
MailOnline has calculated the potential cost at the tills if the Government imposed a tax on meat, oil, dairy, eggs and sugar
No costs have been mooted by Whitehall, but recent studies by a team at Oxford University have calculated that surcharges of 40 per cent on beef, 25 per cent on oils, 20 per cent on milk, 15 per cent on lamb and 10 per cent on chicken would reduce emissions and reduce consumption in the way the PM wants.
This means that the cost of a sirloin steak, currently around £4.50 in the supermarket, would be around £6.30 and mince would rise £1.46 to £5.02. Olive oil would increase from £3.75 to £4.69.
Four pints of milk would go from £1.09 to £1.32, four lamb chops up to £7.50 from £6, six chicken breasts up 50p per pack to £5.50 while a whole chicken would increase in price by 28p to £3.78; Eggs would rise 5p to 94p and sugar would increase by a penny to 66p.
A study by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food calculated tax levels for everyday items that would reduce carbon and consumption. Academics believe 40 per cent on beef would be required, 25 per cent on oats and 20 per cent on lamb
£10,000 bill to rip out your oil and gas boiler – and replace it with electric heat pumps and hydrogen alternatives
The CCC has suggested that new oil-fired boilers will have to be banned by 2028, and gas-fired boilers by 2033.
A previous report suggested that these measures to reduce household emissions by 2050 could cost as much as £10,000 per home.
This includes about £2,000 on insulation and £6,000 on installing alternatives to gas boilers, such as electric heat pumps.
Hydrogen and heat pumps have both been touted as a low carbon emission alternative.
But issues with these heat sources have been highlighted by Dr Matt Lipson, the business lead at Energy Systems Catapult’s Consumer Insight.
He told BBC Radio 4: ‘The downside is there’s no (hydrogen) supplier at the moment, so if you want to do it this winter you might struggle.
If hydrogen is part of a zero-carbon future, it could have to be produced by electrolysis (as shown above), which sees electric currents passed through water. Another option is for the plants to capture the carbon emissions and pump them underground
However, the report suggests that the reduction in household emissions by 2050 could cost as much as £10,000 per home.
This includes about £2,000 on insulation and £6,000 on installing alternatives to gas boilers, such as electric heat pumps.
Dr Lipson added: ‘When we look at the costs nationally it seems the best option is a mix of solutions – there’s no silver bullet unfortunately.
‘Obviously the price of a planet we can all live on isn’t free but I think it’s probably worth the bill.
‘We have to take a nuanced approach and different choices for different places.’
Dr Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said: ‘Calling time on gas boilers will represent a major step on the UK’s path to a carbon neutral nation and is a way for families up and down the country to take action on their carbon footprints.’
There are also warnings about the volatile nature of hydrogen, which could result in explosions and leaks that are difficult to detect.
Boiler Guide states: ‘Because of its high energy content, hydrogen gas is a highly flammable and volatile substance which makes it a risky fuel to work with.
‘Hydrogen is incredibly flammable which makes it a dangerous fuel if not handled correctly. There is also no smell to hydrogen so sensors are required to detect leaks.’
Ban new fossil-fuelled cars – including hybrids – by 2033
The sale of new petrol and diesel cars, motorbikes and vans, including plug-in hybrids, will have to be phased out by the early 2030s, and even HGVs will start to shift to greener alternatives.
That will mean more electric vehicles and charging points, and people will also need to use their cars less, with more home working and more journeys on foot, bike or public transport – with buses and trains also going green.
‘Achieving decarbonisation of surface transport will require a sector-wide transition to vehicles that produce zero tailpipe emissions,’ the CCC has said.
It highlighted how cars account for 61% of ‘surface’ transport emissions, which covers roads, public transport and the rail network.
New petrol and diesel cars and vans are expected to no longer be sold by 2030.
And the committee has said hybrid cars, which are part-electric but still have an engine, should be included in this move from 2032.
The average cost of buying a new electric car in the UK is £44,000, according to industry figures, suggesting a heavy cost for consumers.
Experts have also raised concerns about whether the UK can manufacture enough batteries to fit e-models.
Hugh Bladon, from the Alliance of British Drivers, said: ‘This would destroy the motor industry and make too expensive for the people who need to use cars to ever own one.’
Energy efficiency measures – such as improving insulation and installing low carbon heating – could cost £10,000 per home (file image)
Fewer foreign holidays – and higher prices for flights
A frequent flyer tax is being discussed, with an aim for flights from the UK to be cut by 15 per cent from 2018 levels in a ‘highly optimistic’ scenario for lowering emissions.
The average Briton currently takes 10 foreign holidays every five years, which would need to reduce to around 8. This is the equivalent of around three foreign holidays every two years.
Meanwhile, the upward pressure on air fares caused by extra taxes could see prices return to levels not seen since the 1970s.
The CCC found aviation emissions accounted for 7% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 – an increase of 88% from 1990 levels.
But as the Covid pandemic grounded planes and stopped international travel, the report estimates the UK has seen a drop of at least 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from 2019.
It highlights that with pre-pandemic passenger levels not expected to return until 2024, the pandemic has presented an opportunity to examine ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the future.
Among the report’s suggestions to prevent the situation worsening, they warn there can be no increase in UK airport capacity unless any expansion – such as at Heathrow – is balanced by reductions in capacity elsewhere in the UK.
A frequent flyer tax is also discussed, which calls for flights from the UK to be cut by 15 per cent from 2018 levels in its ‘highly optimistic’ scenario for lowering emissions (file image)