Prime Minister urges G20 leaders to follow suit on UK’s 2050 emissions goal

Theresa May has urged world leaders to follow the UK’s target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as Donald Trump was again left isolated on the issue at a global summit.

The Prime Minister said 19 of the G20 members had recommitted to the Paris climate change agreement in the joint statement issued at the end of their summit, with the US maintaining its opposition.

Mr Trump had reportedly been lobbying for the language in the joint statement to be watered down, but Mrs May said it was significant that a communique was agreed at the Osaka meeting and 19 of the G20 believed in the “irreversibility” of the Paris process.

Mrs May did not have a formal meeting with the US president, but the two did have a discussion at what was the Prime Minister’s last major global summit.

She said: “In Osaka this week we have worked hard to bridge differences between the G20 countries on some of the biggest challenges our nations face.

“That has not been easy but we have made progress. I continue to believe that we are stronger when we work together.

“Genuine collaboration and dialogue are particularly critical now as we confront serious threats to global stability.”

She said action to tackle climate change was needed “before it’s too late”.

The Prime Minister led a session on climate change at the G20 summit, calling on her counterparts to set their own targets to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions because the crisis requires an urgent international response.

G20 summit
G20 summit

The UK has enshrined in law a commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“In recent months we have heard hundreds of thousands of young people urge us – their leaders – to act on climate change before it’s too late,” she said.

“I am proud that the UK has now enshrined in law our world-leading net zero commitment to reduce emissions and I have called on other countries to raise their ambition and embrace this target.”

She added that it was important there was a joint statement from the summit and “what you see in that communique is a continuation of the support that 19 members have for the Paris agreement”.

That echoed the process that has been followed at previous summits since Mr Trump announced his intention to pull out of the Paris deal.

PA Graphics
PA Graphics

The 19 members “have come together and reaffirmed our commitment to the irreversibility of the Paris agreement and our commitment to putting that agreement in place”, Mrs May said.

A senior British Government official acknowledged that the process of drawing up the summit communique was “challenging”.

The “sherpas” – officials who do the groundwork for national leaders at major summits – had a “long night” trying to agree the wording, with climate change and trade key stumbling blocks.

In the margins of the summit, Mrs May had a 20-minute meeting with Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman and raised the case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US intelligence community has concluded that the crown prince directed the killing of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey last year.

“On accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi the Prime Minister said the legal process needed to be open and transparent,” the British official said.