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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Sharma calls for net zero commitments to be honoured to secure ‘fragile win’ at COP26 in IPPR journal essay

  • Two senior Conservative politicians call for more rapid action on net zero in journal, also featuring articles from leading campaigners and academics
  • Advance copies of the journal available on request

Writing for the IPPR Progressive Review journal, the cabinet member and President of COP26 Alok Sharma has called on all countries to “honour their commitments and take rapid action” to tackle the climate crisis and achieve net zero.

The editors of the journal note that this call comes as there is increasing pressure from Conservative back benches to water down net zero commitments.

In the journal, Sharma writes that his main ambition for the COP26 conference was keeping the 1.5-degree target alive, which he describes as a “fragile win” that will only endure if countries take rapid climate action in this “critical decade”. Sharma goes on to warn that “inaction also poses significant risks to security and long-term prosperity”.

The COP26 President, Alok Sharma MP, writes:

“The key thing now is implementation. Our COP26 achievements will come to nothing if we do not deliver on them.

“It is several months since Glasgow and we must build on and protect the integrity of the Glasgow Climate Pact by showing that, collectively, the world is serious about delivering on the commitments made.

“The world has turned a corner, and we must now deliver and show that promises made will be promises kept.”

In terms of mitigation efforts, he argues that the G20 must lead the way and build on recent commitments made in Rome and Glasgow to “strengthen their 2030 emissions reduction targets”.

He writes that he will use the remainder of his presidency to maintain pressure on developed countries to mobilise the $100 billion a year they have promised to support developing countries and to increase the accessibility of climate finance for climate-vulnerable countries.

Progressive Review is the IPPR think tank’s in-house journal of politics and ideas. This edition, featuring Sharma’s article, focuses on COP26 and the future of the global effort to tackle the climate and nature crisis.

Looking at the UK’s transition to net zero, influential backbench Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin writes that if we are to deliver on net zero, then we must achieve the right balance between a liberalised energy market and state regulation.

The journal editors note that his contribution is a timely reminder that despite the loud noises from net zero sceptics in some parts of the Conservative party, there remains broad support across the party for delivering the net zero agenda.

Dorothy Guerrero, head of policy and advocacy at Global Justice Now, also writes for the edition, but sees COP26 as a failure, arguing that “the talks’ dismal outcome and targets, however, are completely inadequate” and that “the COP’s history is replete with broken promises by rich countries”.

However, Guerrero also argues that the global justice movement left Glasgow strengthened. She finds hope in the protests and strategizing that took place on the streets of Glasgow and around the world.

Noga Levy-Rapoport, a 20-year-old climate activist and YouthStrike4Climate organiser, also writes in the journal that “the economic structures seeking perpetual wealth define and limit so much of what COP is capable of achieving in our name” and that “youth activism post-COP26 must take the tools at hand to create that tidal wave of people power” to push for greater climate action.

Last year, IPPR published the final report of its cross-party Environmental Justice Commission, which set out a blueprint for a people-first drive to net zero, which rapidly reduces emissions, while ensuring fairness and opportunity for all.

Commenting on this special edition of IPPR’s Progressive Review, Luke Murphy, IPPR associate director for energy, climate, housing and infrastructure, said:

Just five months on from COP26, we are in the grip of multiple crises with the cost of living crisis set to push millions into poverty, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine which is also inflicting wider humanitarian and security consequences.

“Addressing the climate crisis can help insulate us from these risks – lowering energy bills, making us more energy secure and delivering a cleaner and healthier society and thriving natural world.

“The actions we take collectively in 2022, and every year this decade and beyond, will be crucial in determining humanity’s fate.”



Robin Harvey, Digital and Media Officer: 07779 204798 [email protected]


  1. The IPPR Progressive Review Journal, A fair COP? Keeping 1.5C alive edited by Luke Murphy, Becca Massey-Chase and Joshua Emden, will be published by Wiley at 0001 on Monday 28 March. It will be available for download at:
  2. Advance copies of the journal are available on request
  3. All authors: The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP; Richard Kinley; Emily Shuckburgh; Lee Waters MS; Sir Bernard Jenkin MP; Sara Reis and Anna Johnston; Sir John Curtice; Jake Ainscough and Rebecca Willis; Ben Goldsmith; Sam Hall; Sophie Howe; Dorothy Guerrero; Rishikesh Ram Bhandary and Katie Gallogly-Swan; Moustapha Kamal Gueye; Noga Lefy-Rapoport
  4. Progressive Review is IPPR's journal of politics and ideas, showcasing the best in British and international thinking for achieving lasting progressive change. It is published quarterly by Wily. All editions available here:
  5. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.