Environmentalists have welcomed news David Cameron will attend a “vital” UN summit on climate change in New York later this month.
The climate summit is being hosted by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to drive international action on climate change in the run up to talks in Paris next year, where it is hoped a global deal to tackle rising temperatures will be secured.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey this week set out the UK vision for a deal, with “fair and credible” emissions reductions from all countries, and urged the EU to take the lead in signing up this year to at least 40% cuts in emissions by 2030.
US president Barack Obama is expected to attend the summit in New York, although leaders of other key polluting countries, China and India, are not planning to go.
Downing Street confirmed that Mr Cameron will attend the climate change summit as part of a trip to New York which will also take in the United Nations General Assembly later this month.
“He and a good number of other world leaders will be taking the opportunity of this meeting to underline the importance of reaching an agreement at the Paris conference that will be held in the second half of 2015.”
Greenpeace UK political director Ruth Davis said: “This summit is a vital opportunity to inject fresh momentum into global negotiations ahead of a crunch year for action on climate change, so it’s encouraging to see David Cameron is making a priority of it.
“But if Britain wants to reclaim its leadership role on climate, the Prime Minister needs to put his own house in order first. This means scrapping subsidies for coal plants and setting out a clear plan to phase out coal burning by the early 2020s.”
Former Conservative leader Lord Howard of Lympne said: “Climate change is an issue for all governments, so I welcome David Cameron’s decision to join more than 100 other world leaders at the UN climate summit later this month.
“The Prime Minister is to be commended for continuing a long tradition of Conservative Party leadership on climate change.”
Ahead of the summit, campaigners have warned that efforts to tackle poverty will be severely compromised without action to fight climate change.
Organisations including Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid, Greenpeace and WWF called for new “sustainable development goals” (SDGs), set to succeed the Millennium Development Goals which expire next year, to include a goal on tackling climate change.
The SDGs must also recognise the need to cut carbon from energy generation to prevent dangerous climate change, and that increasing access to clean, affordable energy will help cut poverty, improve health and empower women, they said.
Christian Aid chief executive Loretta Minghella said: “It is poor and marginalised people who are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, suffering the loss of their homes, jobs, crops – and even lives.
“Developing countries must not be deprived of the opportunity of progress. Instead, the goals must signpost how that can be achieved without making climate change worse.
“The goals must be a blueprint for low carbon development the world over, encompassing all sectors including health, agriculture, urban development, energy, water access and income generation.”