Cop26 success is a ‘question of will’, Boris Johnson says

The Prime Minister praised progress so far at the global climate conference but warned the future of the planet ‘still hangs in the balance’.

August Graham
Wednesday 03 November 2021 14:59
Boris Johnson spent two days at Cop26 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Boris Johnson spent two days at Cop26 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Boris Johnson has said whether or not the Cop26 UN climate summit is successful is a “question of will”.

The Prime Minister has said “we can take heart” from what has been achieved at the conference in Glasgow so far, but warned that whether the planet can avoid climate disaster “still hangs in the balance”.

Speaking in the Commons following his two days at the summit, he said unless words are turned into actions “every summit going back to Rio de Janeiro in 1992 will have failed, because we will have allowed our shared aim of 1.5C to escape our grasp”.

“The negotiations in Glasgow have almost two weeks to run, but we can take heart from what has been achieved so far,” he said.

“The UK has asked the world for action on coal, cars, cash and trees. We have begun to make progress, substantial, palpable progress, on three out of the four. But the negotiations in Glasgow have a long way to go.

“Far more must be done. Whether we can summon the collective wisdom and will to save ourselves from an avoidable disaster still hangs in the balance. We will press on with the hard work until the last hour.”

He added: “In the end, it is a question of will.

“We have the technologies to do what it is necessary. All that remains in question is our result.”

His comments come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the private sector also needs to step up to help fund the global fight against climate change in addition to public funds.

He said governments of developed nations are going to meet their six-year-old promise to send 100 billion US dollars (£73 billion) to developing countries in 2023, three years behind target.

“While we know we are not yet meeting it soon enough, we will work closely with developing countries to do more and to reach the target soon,” he told the Cop26 conference.

He added: “Public investment alone isn’t enough, so our second action is to mobilise private finance.”

The Chancellor announced that financial institutions controlling 40% of global assets would align themselves to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C limit for global warming.

In total, 450 institutions have signed up to the so-called Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (Gfanz), an organisation led by the former Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

(PA Graphics)

“The 130 trillion dollars that the Chancellor announced is more than is needed for the net-zero transition globally,” Mr Carney said on Wednesday.

He added: “What you’re hearing today is that the money is here, but that money needs net-zero aligned projects.”

Mr Sunak said: “Six years ago Paris set the ambition. Today in Glasgow we’re providing the investment we need to deliver that ambition.”

He was speaking ahead of Janet Yellen the US Treasury Secretary, who said climate change was a huge opportunity for businesses.

“The old notions of why the private sector should decarbonise because the planet must be put before profit are no longer universally true,” she said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined plans to ‘mobilise private finance’ for tackling climate change (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Green technologies have cost curves that continue to plunge, in many cases it is simply cost-effective to go green.

“Addressing climate change is the greatest economic opportunity of our time.”

Finance ministers are meeting in Glasgow on Wednesday following the meetings between world leaders on Monday.

Mr Sunak also promised to turn the UK into what he said would be the world’s first net-zero aligned financial centre.

He said listed companies in the UK would need to publish a transition plan that sets out their path to green their businesses.

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