Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Climate action cannot become another Covid victim, Boris Johnson to warn

UK will ‘lead by example’, Mr Johnson expected to say

Clea Skopeliti
Thursday 24 September 2020 10:33 BST
The UK will host Cop26, the PM will announce
The UK will host Cop26, the PM will announce (Getty Images)

Commitment to tackling the climate emergency must not be lost to the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister will warn UN members on Thursday, as he looks toward the five-year anniversary of the Paris climate accord.  

Boris Johnson will use his address at the remote UN summit to underline all nations must make “ambitious commitments” to deal with the crisis, adding that “no one country can turn the tide” alone. 

The prime minister is expected to say: "As the world continues to deal with coronavirus we must look ahead to how we will rebuild, and how we can seize the opportunity to build back better.

“The UK will lead by example, keeping the environment on the global agenda and serving as a launch pad for a global green industrial revolution.”

“But no one country can turn the tide," Mr Johnson will warn, likening it to "bailing out a liner with a single bucket”.

The prime minister will urge nation members not to allow the fight against the climate crisis to fall by the wayside during the pandemic.

“We cannot let climate action become another victim of coronavirus,” he will say.

"Let us be the leaders who secure the very health of the planet for our children, grandchildren and generations to come."

Mr Johnson will also announce UK plans to host the next UN climate summit, called Cop26, on 12 December on the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The results of the US presidential election should be known by this date. If Donald Trump wins a second term, the US’s withdrawal from the Paris accord will have already taken place, leaving remaining member states in the difficult position of trying to meet the Paris goals without the world’s second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide.

In a surprise announcement earlier this week, president Xi Jinping told the UN that China will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060 – a huge challenge for the world’s number one emitter. The plans would require China to reduce its emissions more steeply than any major economy has ever pledged to before.

Downing Street said the the UN climate summit would be “an opportunity for world leaders to announce new and enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and net zero targets”.

The UK has not yet announced its NDCs, despite leading Cop26.

"As part of the Paris Agreement, all countries are due to submit ambitious new NDCs by the end of this year.

"NDCs set out what each country will do by 2030 to help limit global warming and achieve net zero emissions, from boosting renewable energy to investing in green transport.

"The prime minister will call on world leaders to announce genuinely transformational net zero targets and bold climate finance pledges at the 12 December event."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in