UK and Germany Fall Behind on Paris Climate Deal Promises

The United Nations special envoy on climate has slammed Britain and Germany for already undermining pledges made in the Paris climate talks last December.

Mary Robinson, one of the UN’s special envoys on climate change and the El Niño weather phenomenon, has said that while Germany has made some progress on its climate change promises, it is sending mixed signals by continuing to throw money at the fossil fuel industry.

In addition, the UK has lost its status as a leader on climate change by investing in and providing subsidies for fossil fuels, while rolling back on green energy initiatives.

Robinson told The Guardian:

They’ve [the British government] introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost the UK taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and at the same time they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency… It’s regrettable. That’s not in the spirit [of Paris]. In many ways, the UK was a real leader [on climate change] and hopefully the UK will become again a real leader. But it’s not at the moment.

Robinson has been clear that her criticisms are not just for the UK and Germany — indeed, nearly every nation which signed on to the Paris agreement could be doing more. But the aforementioned countries hold strong positions in Europe, and their lack of action is concerning — especially given that they often set the political tone for the region.

This announcement comes in the wake of the British government’s decision to abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Led by new Prime Minister Theresa May, the move restructures climate change oversight under the — noticeably non-green sounding – Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

May also appointed MP Andrea Leadsom — a known climate science skeptic and fox hunting supporter –  as Environment Secretary. 

The Paris climate agreement was a groundbreaking moment for global cooperation on climate change, with over 175 world leaders committing to peak emission targets and signing on to pacts on accountability and oversight.

However, climate scientists and campaigners alike warned that unless world governments began to implement these pledges immediately, there was no hope of achieving the already lofty goal of keeping global temperature rise to below 2ºC above preindustrial levels — and ideally, at 1.5ºC.

Now a group known as the Elders, formed by the late Nelson Mandela and comprising a band of former world leaders, has issued a stark warning that current world leaders are not taking appropriate action.

The group, of which envoy Margaret Robinson is also a member, said in a statement released July 18: “Sadly, what we are seeing so far this year does not convince us that leaders, especially of wealthy and large emitting countries, are acting in accordance with the vision they publicly embraced in Paris.”

The Elders are particularly concerned about the amount of investment in fossil fuels, stating:

G20 governments are still providing US$444 billion a year in support for the production of fossil fuels, including through subsidies, public finance and state-owned enterprise investment. Some countries are even increasing subsidies to fossil fuel production. This is simply not good enough.

The Elders also point out that the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters, a list made up of some of the richest nations in the world, have not yet ratified the Paris climate agreement. That means they have failed to formally adopt any of the promises they made in December.

The Elders call on world leaders to immediately cut subsidies and investments in fossil fuels and to “deliver urgent action to cut emissions.” Those actions include using policy initiatives to attain stated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as more aggressive carbon pricing measures.

At the same time, wealthier countries must support developing nations in their efforts — many of which, to date, have far outstripped those made by big emitters when compared to overall spending and investment power.

While the Paris climate agreement was a landmark for global politics, it will only ever be political talk unless our governments — including key players like the UK and Germany — take action. By continuing to invest in fossil fuels, our governments endanger not only the environment, but also the food and financial security of future generations.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


John B
John B1 years ago

Thanks Steve for sharing the info and links.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Mike s.
Mike s2 years ago

Empty promises, fossil fuel subsidies must be reduced, with the ultimate goal of removing them completely!

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Kezia W.
Inez w2 years ago

After Theresa May become crowned prince of the UK (no election, no nothing, just PM now) she dropped anything to do with Climate Change.
The person who is kinda in charge of that stuff has been known to ask questions like 'Is climate change even real?'
So yeah... the UK is leading thew world as usual (please note a HUGE amount of sarcasm for the last part. I just despair now for the UK)

Leonard P.
Leonard P2 years ago

The US is no better than those countries.

Patricia H.
Patricia Harris2 years ago

Teresa Antela, yep! A promise obviously means nothing to these clowns, even if they happen to have small children of their own (scary thought)

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

Not just UK and seems Paris was all for show for many.

Ricky T.
Ricky T2 years ago

Thanks for your pitiful promises & your pitiful legacy Cameron!

Pablo B.
.2 years ago