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COP26: Glasgow summit could deliver first 'road map' to fix climate change: Johnson

Highlights

UK to move beyond hydrocarbons 'as soon as possible'

Energy transition prices gain 53% in 8 months to August

Finance has power to unlock climate stalemate: Johnson

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  • Frank Watson in Glasgow
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Two weeks of international climate negotiations in Glasgow could give rise to the first roadmap that can halt global temperature rise, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Nov. 10.

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Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference, Johnson said the world was nearer to closing the gap between current output of greenhouse gases and the level needed to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 C.

"We've got to be honest. The COP26 summit here in Glasgow is not going to fix it in one go. We're not going to arrest climate change right here, right now. That is just impossible," Johnson said at a press conference.

"But what we can possibly do, if things go well in the remaining 48 hours ... there is the possibility that we will come away from this with the first genuine road map for a solution to anthropogenic climate change that I can think of in my lifetime," he said.

Some of the solutions needed to meet the global temperature goal have already emerged, and these must be more widely adopted and further scaled up, Johnson told delegates.

International efforts to close the global emissions gap are prompting policies that help clear the way for renewable energy, clean transportation and low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage that can decarbonize the emissions-intensive industries.

Transition prices on the rise

A basket of 70 energy transition-related price benchmarks assessed by S&P Global Platts has increased in value by over 53% in the eight months to the end of August. Among the biggest risers are battery metals, recycled plastics, electrolysis-derived hydrogen, voluntary carbon credits, and guarantees of origin in the electricity markets.

The UK has been setting in the pace in many of those solutions, creating pressure on larger economies to follow suit, Johnson said.

"What we want to do is move beyond hydrocarbons completely in the UK and do it as fast as possible," he said.

"We set an absolutely blistering pace for moving beyond hydrocarbon internal combustion engine vehicles. No new ICE cars will be sold in the UK from 2030. We're going to decarbonize our power system from 2035. We're taking gigantic steps forward," he said, pointing to an almost complete phaseout of coal-fired power in the UK, from an 80% dependency 50 years ago.

And on the international stage, a case in point for the required global energy transition is the deal reached in Glasgow for a just transition for South Africa's energy sector, Johnson said, which involved the UK, France, Germany and the United States.

The deal is expected to prevent 1 billion-1.5 billion mt of CO2 equivalent emissions over the next 20 years, according to the European Commission.

"That is the way forward: countries coming together, " Johnson said. "$8.5 billion to support South Africa's transition away from carbon fuels, away from coal. That is the model that I think is going to help us to crack the problem if we get enough countries to agree to it and to sign up."

The summit in Glasgow is focused chiefly on emissions mitigation, climate adaptation and finance, Johnson said.

"As you look at the final period of this negotiation, there is no doubt at all that finance is the great solvent that matters," he said. "If we can unlock this, if we can make progress, it will depend on the finance."