Green Britain: Boris Johnson says green plan is about jobs and growth, not bunny hugging

Boris Johnson addresses political challenges at climate summit

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On Earth Day he urged world leaders to join forces to cut carbon emissions, and told them that tackling the crisis would create jobs and boost economies across the globe. Mr Johnson warned that hitting radical new targets for cutting greenhouse gases was not going to be easy. But he said investing in green technology and making environmental changes will allow the world to “build back better” following the pandemic. Speaking at a virtual climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, Mr Johnson encouraged other countries to follow the UK’s lead by setting ambitious goals to protect the environment.

He said: “If we’re going to tackle climate change, we have to deal with the disaster of habitat loss and species loss across our planet.

“We’ve got to be consistently original and optimistic about new technology and develop new solutions.”

He added: “I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy and there is obviously going to be a political challenge. 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 but you know what I’m driving at. This is about growth and jobs…We can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener.”

Mr Johnson has vowed to cut UK emissions by 78 percent by 2035 – the toughest target in the world.

He said the UK had already reduced levels set in 1990 by 42 percent and the economy has grown by 73 percent. And he assured the summit: “You can do both at once. ‘Cake, have, eat’ is my message to you.”

The PM added: “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.”

President Biden – leader of the world’s second worst polluter after China – announced he wants to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by at least half of 2005 levels by 2030.

Analysts said the move is “major progress” but is still not enough to bring the US in line with international climate goals, as its target is estimated to be a 41-44 percent reduction on 1990 levels.

However Mr Biden told the summit: “The signs are unmistakable. 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 added: “All of us, particularly those who represent the world’s largest economies, 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.”

Japan unveiled a new 2030 target, aiming to cut emissions by 46 percent on 2013 levels – up on its earlier goal of 26 percent – to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the country would try to push the reduction to 50 percent.

The EU agreed a new climate law, which includes a goal to cut its emissions by 55 percent by 2030, based on 1990 levels.

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.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said wealthy nations should do more to help the developing world tackle climate change.

He said China will “prioritise” ecological conservation and “will strive” to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. And he vowed: “We will strictly control coal-fired carbon power projects, we will strictly limit the increase in coal consumption.”

Russian leader Vladimir Putin said his country already “makes a gigantic contribution” by absorbing about 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

But he also stressed the importance of slashing methane emissions, which have a significantly stronger global warming effect than carbon dioxide – and asked others to join the fight.

Mr Putin said: “We invite all those interested countries to join collaborative scientific research to jointly invest in climate projects that can make a difference. Russia is genuinely interested in galvanising international co-operation.”

Mr Johnson last year unveiled a 10-point green plan for efforts to cut UK emissions.

The Government rejected calls from experts to make Britons change their diets to food that is lower in meat and dairy.

But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday said: “I’m certainly reducing my meat consumption, not only for environmental reasons but also for health reasons. Maybe I can move to a full vegan diet at some point.”

Harry ‘energised’ by late grandfather’s eco legacy

By Mark Reynolds

The Duke of Sussex paid tribute to his grandfather’s support for the natural world as he marked Earth Day by highlighting “generations of conservation champions”.

Harry said he felt “proud and energised” to continue the legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh, who was an early proponent of environmentalism. Speaking as president of conservation organisation African Parks, the duke said: “It’s critical we continue to look at the strengthening and protecting of biodiversity, not just as a value we hold – but as a responsibility that is vital to our way of life.

“On this Earth Day, I reflect on generations of conservation champions, including my late grandfather and feel proud and energised to continue doing my part in this legacy. I join the incredible African Parks team and communities around the world in shared dedication to our environment and collective wellbeing.”

Meanwhile, Harry’s brother William called on scientists to collaborate as they had in developing Covid vaccines.

He said: “These lessons apply not just to pandemics but to the most pressing challenge in human history – stopping the climate emergency. If we do not act in this decade the damage to our planet will be irreversible, impacting not only those of us alive today but generations to come.”

How we did our bit for Earth Day

By Steph Spyro

The Banfields plan to harness their children’s eco enthusiasm to make permanent changes.

Key workers Joe and Mandy, both 43, and kids Amelie, nine, Archie, six, and Ayla, four, took the Daily Express Earth Day pledge by turning off their heating, ditching their car, and cutting out meat and fish yesterday.

Joe, from Milton Keynes, walked and cycled with his children to school. He said: “The thing that’s really good about Earth Day is that it’s teaching the children a load of things that we can then just make part of everyday life. We’re harnessing their enthusiasm when they’re not moaning about going to school in a car.” Archie, who helped turn the heating off, said: “We like doing eco stuff.”

Joe added: “I’ve put a jumper on and the children have blankets rather than it being baking hot in the house.” Amelie added: “If you’re spending more money on eco stuff but using less money on the heating, it balances out. You’re not using more money overall.”

For lunch it was vegetable cottage pie and dinner was pasta.

The family, who back this paper’s Green Britain Needs You campaign, also refilled their bird feeder and planted a bee bomb to make their garden more pollinator friendly.

Amelie said: “We should do Earth Day more often because it makes the planet better.”

2020 Europe’s ‘hottest ever’

Last year was Europe’s warmest on record, scientists say.

The annual temperature in 2020 was at least 0.4C higher than the next five hottest years, all of which occurred during the last decade.

It was also one of three warmest years ever recorded globally, the European State of the Climate report revealed.

Scientist Freja Vamborg, of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the report’s lead author, said: “Our findings highlight the continued warming trend across Europe and the rest of the globe.”

Greenhouse gases were also at their highest levels in 18 years.

Carbon dioxide concentrations rose by 0.6 percent and methane by nearly 0.8 percent.

This is the highest annual level since at least 2003 when satellite observations started.

C3S director Carlo Buontempo said: “It is more important than ever that we use the available information to act, to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to accelerate our efforts to reduce future risks.”

‘Amazing year’ for birds at risk

A charity has welcomed an “amazing year” for wildlife with some threatened species having a record breeding season.

The number of species on Royal Society of Birds reserves exceeded 18,500 last year with 3,000 of these being of conservation concern.

The “highlight” was the spoonbill, with its successful breeding at Havergate Island.

Three pairs nested – the first success in Suffolk for 300 years.

There were six nesting attempts at Fairburn Ings in West Yorks which are thought to have fledged a total of five young.

● The Daily Express has joined forces with green entrepreneur Dale Vince and the RSPB to help buy and transform Horse Common, a 91-acre area of woodland, heathland and a nature haven in the New Forest.

The initial goal is to raise £90,000 towards a total cost of £450,000.

Visit via rspb.org.uk/expressappeal

Boris Johnson's climate change policies slammed by Tominey

Be like Da Vinci

Teaching children to think like all-rounder Leonardo Da Vinci could help them tackle the climate crisis, researchers have suggested.

University researchers from Cambridge and Edinburgh say pupils would benefit from science and the arts being taught together around climate change or food security.

Professor Pam Burnard said: “If we look at the amazing designs Da Vinci produced, it’s clear he was combining disciplines to advance knowledge and solve problems.”

Comment by Iolo Williams

After nearly a year of living with the pandemic, it has been a struggle for many people to remain positive. While happier times may still feel a way off, one thing that has been a tremendous help is getting outside and opening our eyes and ears to the natural world.

No matter where you live, rural or urban, wildlife is never far away. Parks, gardens, cemeteries and ponds are teeming with wildlife.

Singing robins and blackbirds are being joined by wrens and great tits as they build up to the crescendo of a spring dawn chorus. In lakes and pools, frogs are gathering to spawn and in woodlands and gardens, snowdrops, daffodils and primroses are adding colour.

I live on the edge of a small village in mid-Wales and, for the first time since childhood,

I wandered the country lanes and watched as spring unfolded. I looked for bird nests, just as I had done in my youth, and marvelled at the variety of bees and butterflies.

For the first time, a pair of red kites nested in a wood a stone’s throw from my kitchen window and I watched as the single chick took its first flight.

Did wildlife benefit from the lockdowns? Certain species took advantage of fewer cars on the roads and walkers in the hills, with Llandudno’s gangs of goats making headlines. The biggest difference was that people were forced to walk their parks and fields and, often for the first time, took notice of the natural world around them.

This was summed up to me by a friend who lives in a block of flats in Birmingham. She had just seen a peregrine falcon fly past her window. As she told me: “This has not just made my day, it’s made my week, and given me renewed vigour to battle through these times and come out smiling the other end.”

That’s what wildlife can do for you.

Iolo Tudur Williams is a Welsh nature observer

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