UN chief’s warning could have been aimed at UK

As COP27 opened in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt at the weekend, today saw the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issue a stark warning about the lack of progress. He said that the world was on the “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” This comes amidst warnings that the lack of action could threaten keeping the Earth’s warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The message, though, could have been drafted with the UK Government in mind. This is a Government that is continuing to approve new roads despite the significant increases in carbon emissions they cause.

Chris Todd, director, Transport Action Network said:

“Antonio Guterres’ analogy is particularly apt for the UK. The Government here is pressing the accelerator hard to the floor to speed up road approvals, making it harder for people to object [2]. It has refused to review its £24bn road building programme [3], denying it will have any impact on climate change. Is it any wonder the world is failing so badly?

“Yet, despite the stark warnings, if we act now, act urgently and at every level possible, we can achieve the change required. The UK Government has the opportunity to turn things around next week when it publishes its financial statement. Scrapping damaging road schemes would both help to fill the UK’s fiscal black hole and address its shortfall in carbon reductions [4] [5]. It would be the perfect response to Antonio Guterres’ opening speech and place the UK once again as a leader amongst nations in tackling climate change.”

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors:

[1] See UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ opening speech:  at approximately 1 minute, 30 seconds.

[2] The Government is seeking to speed up approvals of major infrastructure projects in its new Levelling Up Bill

[3] Letter from Baroness Vere turning down request to re-open RIS2 available on request

[4] Scrapping just five of the largest and most damaging road schemes could save £16bn (see our 18 October press release) and over 15 million tonnes of carbon (see table of emissions for RIS2 road schemes taken from National Highways data).

[5] A report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has highlighted how far behind the UK is in achieving timely emissions reductions

Photo by Chris Gallagher on Unsplash


Signing up will allow you to access our monthly newsletter and the latest actions and events