Cop26: ‘We risk blowing it’ on climate change, Boris Johnson warns

Prime minister urges world leaders to show ‘conviction and courage’

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 12 November 2021 17:09
Boris Johnson on COP26 - 'We really are in the final furlong'

Prime minister Boris Johnson has warned that “we risk blowing it” on climate if countries do not agree a draft deal on the table at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.

Speaking from London, the prime minister said he was urging world leaders to show the “courage” to secure a deal which could put the world on a track to limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

But his call for them to sign off the draft agreement published early on Friday is a clear indication that he has given up hope of achieving any further improvements on a text which has been criticised by climate activists as too weak.

“What everybody needs to do now is recognise that we really are in the final furlong, and it’s in the final furlong where the horses change places,” said Mr Johnson.

“What needs to happen now is that people need to understand that the deal that’s on the table - the so-called cover decision - that is the text.

“We either find a way of agreeing it or I’m afraid we risk blowing it. That’s the reality.”

Following phone talks with leaders of Italy and Egypt, Mr Johnson said: “What I’m saying to world leaders in all my conversations is ‘This is the moment - tell your negotiating teams how important this is.

“’Tell them to have the conviction and the courage to come together and agree that cover decision because people are watching this around the world. It’s a moment of massive choice for the world’.”

It was time for rich nations to commit to increase donations to help the developing world cut emissions and make necessary adaptations to deal with the extreme weather caused by higher temperatures, he said.

Pledges made at the Copenhagen summit in 2009 to deliver $100bn a year have still not been met, with the target unlikely to be hit until three years late in 2023.

“We do need to see the cash on the table to help the developing world to make the  changes that are necessary,” said Mr Johnson.

“That’s what needs to happen in the next few hours.

“People need to see that there’s enough cash to make a start, there’s enough commitments to make a start and that if they can have the courage to do this deal - to agree the cover decision that’s on the table today - then we will have that roadmap that will enable us to go forward and start to remove the threat of anthropogenic climate change.”

The PM said it had been clear all along that it would not be possible to reach an agreement at Glasgow that would ensure global warming does not cross the 1.5C threshold, which experts believe will allow the world to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

World leaders will have to come back with further commitments at future summits, he said.

“What we can’t do is stop global warming at Glasgow - we can’t, we’ve got to accept that,” saidMr Johnson.

“What we can do is keep alive the prospect of restraining the increase in the planet’s temperatures to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

“Now, even an increase of 1.5 degrees is going to have some pretty big consequences for the environment and for human beings. But it’s much, much better than allowing temperatures to increase by two degrees or more.

“What we can still achieve at Cop in Glasgow is keep alive that prospect.”

Mr Johnson has faced criticism from Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour Cop26 spokesperson Ed Miliband for staying away from Glasgow as the crucial United Nations conference enters its final straight.

But he brushed off suggestions that he should have returned to the summit after his three-hour visit on Wednesday, saying only: “I can absolutely promise you we’ve been shifting heaven and earth to try and get all our friends, our acquaintances around the world  - everybody -  to see the vital importance of this agreement in Glasgow.”

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