THE UK Government’s agenda for COP26 is “woefully inadequate”, a climate activist group has said.

COP26 president Alok Sharma gave a speech in Paris on Tuesday less than three weeks before the United Nations climate talks are set to take place in Glasgow.

The Business Secretary warned leaders of major economies, such as China, that they need to step up with a new climate plan.

He urged leaders to honour the Paris Agreement in 2015, which commits to keeping countries' rising temperatures well below 2C and attempt to limit them to 1.5C, and called on G20 countries, who together are responsible for 80% of global emissions, to bring forward new plans.

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Sharma also called for agreements on shifting away from coal, boosting electric cars, protecting trees and cutting emissions of methane.

However, activists at the COP26 coalition, made up of environment and development NGOs, trade unions, grassroots community campaigns and many others, have criticised the speech and said the UK should focus on “action and not hollow promises”.

Sharma said in his speech that current action and pledges leave the world well off track to meeting the 1.5C goal and avoiding the most dangerous heat waves, floods, damage to natural systems, rising sea levels and diseases that higher temperatures will bring.

He said: “If temperatures continue to rise we will step through a series of one-way doors, the end destination of which is climate catastrophe.”

He warned the world had already seen devastating flooding, raging wildfires and record temperatures.

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COP26 will be held at the SEC campus in Glasgow between October 31 and November 12

At 1.5C of warming, 700 million people would be at risk of extreme heatwaves, while at 2C of warming it would be two billion, and while the lower temperature rise would destroy 70% of the world’s coral reefs, they would all die at 2C.

COP26 is the deadline by which countries are expected to bring forward more ambitious plans, under a five-year cycle, to get the world on track to meet the Paris goals, and is being seen as the most significant climate meeting since the talks in the French capital.

More than 70 states have come forward with new plans to cut emissions by 2030, including the UK and all of the G7 group of leading industrial nations, and some of the most vulnerable countries in the world.

Sharma said that the response of the G20 will be “make or break” for keeping 1.5C in reach.

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Some of the G20 have already put forward new plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – but eyes are on major polluters, and what they will do with a meeting of the group of nations scheduled immediately before COP26.

Asad Rehman, of the COP26 Coalition, said that the speech simply did not go far enough.

He commented: “After 18 months of big talk from the UK, it is a huge disappointment to see such a woefully inadequate agenda for the UN Climate Talks. The window on preventing runaway climate disruption is rapidly closing, yet we have nothing on the table which will actually tackle this crisis.

“It’s not tough talking on climate, or appeals to others to act that will deliver the outcome needed at COP26 for people and planet.

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“The UK should be leading by example, doing its fair share of effort and supporting less well off countries who are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis right now.

“Instead, the UK is digging for more gas and oil, pouring billions into the hands of fossil fuel giants and green lighting more airport expansion.

“Alok Sharma would do well to read his own briefings on climate science and convince the UK Government to focus on action and not hollow promises and pointing fingers.”

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It comes as Sharma is also pushing countries to deliver on a promise made at a UN summit more than a decade ago to provide $100 billion (£73bn) a year in finance to help developing nations cope with climate change.

He said the target was “within touching distance” and urged every donor nation to step forward before COP26, stating that delivering the funding was vital to the success of the summit.