My Lords, I make no apologies for devoting my remarks today to the international aspect of climate change, while many other speakers, led so admirably by my noble friend Lady Hayman, whose debate is so topical, will very justifiably be focusing on what we need to do ourselves. It is a simple fact that we in this country acting on our own cannot make any serious impact on global warming or the mitigation of climate change, but nor can we hope to play an influential part in the essential international effort if we do not set an example by what we are doing at a national level. Those two aspects are two sides of a single coin, and right now we are not winning the toss with either side of the coin.
The challenge of ensuring that the COP 26 meeting in Glasgow succeeds in consolidating the implementation of the Paris agreement and in strengthening action beyond its commitments is certainly no easy one. The postponement of that meeting is of course time lost, but it could prove a cloud with a silver lining if we factor in the consequences of Covid-19 and use them as an opportunity as well as a grievous blow. For COP 26 to be a success, three conditions must be met. First, it must be a genuinely co-operative venture, which will mean working closely with others, including the European Union. Secondly, we need a critical path to success in terms of objectives and method. Paris showed it can be done, and Copenhagen showed how not to do it. Thirdly, we need to make a political input at the highest level, because decisions at Glasgow will be reached only if they are supported at that level. So far, I can see no sign of any of these conditions being met.
A word now about Africa, on which your Lordships’ committee on which I serve will shortly produce a report. Africa is a victim of climate change, from desertification to sea level rise and deforestation. It is not a cause of that change. It has as yet underused capacity to mitigate those changes through the development of renewable energy: solar, wind and even hydro. By helping Africa mobilise those resources, we will be furthering our interest.