‘If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails’: Boris Johnson warns as climate summit kicks off

Current commitments from global leaders ‘drops in a rapidly warming ocean’, prime minister says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 31 October 2021 17:10
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Boris Johnson has issued a frank warning about the prospects of global leaders tackling the climate emergency, saying: “If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails”.

The prime minister’s gloomy remarks — as the Cop26 summit kicks off — came as he described current commitments from countries across the globe as “drops in a rapidly warming ocean”.

Mr Johnson also admitted a net zero pledge inserted in the G20 communique — pledging to achieve carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century” — was too vague when challenged at a press conference.

“Some countries, as you know, have made commitments to 2060 rather than to 2050,” Mr Johnson told reporters in Rome.

“What they’ve said is 2060 or earlier, and what we want to do is bring those commitments earlier.”

Marking the end of the G20 summit, he stressed that the Cop26 target of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5C degrees above pre-industrial levels “hangs in the balance”.

“I must be clear if Glasgow fails then the whole thing fails,” he said. “The Paris Agreement will have crumpled at the first reckoning”.

He said that agreement is currently “just a piece of paper”, adding: “We need to fill that piece of paper, to populate it with real progress and I know that humanity has in it the power to rise to the challenge.”

Asked about the prospects of making progress as representatives from around 200 countries in Glasgow, the prime minister also told reporters it depended on the will, the courage, the leadership of everyone in the room”.

He added there were “granola commitments” countries needed to make on “coal, cars, cash and tress”, warning: “Otherwise I’m afraid that the increase in temperatures will be considerably in excess of 1.5C degrees and that’s the challenge. I’m not going to sugarcoat it.

“I’m not going to pretend it’s otherwise than it is. I think there’s a chance, I really do, I think there’s a chance that we can make the progress.

“Everybody can see how to do it, it’s a question of will and leadership.”

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