Boris Johnson opens COP26 summit; warns of world facing James Bond moment to save the planet

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November 01, 2021 8:20 PM

Johnson warned that two degrees more to global temperatures will jeopardise food supplies, three degrees more will bring more wildfires and cyclones, while four degrees and "we say goodbye to whole cities".

Boris JohnsonIn his address, Johnson warned that unless global temperatures are brought down towards 1.5 Celsius, the world may have to say goodbye to whole cities (PTI Photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday opened the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, with a warning about the world leaders’ meeting being the world’s James Bond moment to save the planet. “It is one minute to midnight and we need to act now,” Johnson said as he opened day one of the two-day World Leaders’ Summit of the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

“We are in roughly the same position my fellow global leaders as James Bond today except that the tragedy is this is not a movie… the doomsday device is real,” he said, referring to the fictional spy who often ends his films fighting to stop a force from ending the world.

Johnson warned that two degrees more to global temperatures will jeopardise food supplies, three degrees more will bring more wildfires and cyclones, while four degrees and “we say goodbye to whole cities”.

Alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi, around 120 world leaders have gathered for the summit to achieve a consensus on implementing the targets agreed during the COP summit held in Paris in 2015 and set “ambitious” targets to cut carbon emissions. Singling out some of the biggest economies of the world in the US and China, During the high-profile segment of the World Leaders’ Summit, Prime Minister Modi will be presenting the formal position on India’s climate action agenda and lay out the best practices and achievements in the sector at the COP26 summit.

In his address, Johnson warned that unless global temperatures are brought down towards 1.5 Celsius, the world may have to say goodbye to whole cities. “Miami and Shanghai lost beneath the waves. The longer we fail to act, the worse it gets, and the higher the price when we are eventually forced by catastrophe to act because humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change,” he warned.

During the keynote speech, Johnson made reference to a speech delivered by teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg in which she lambasted empty promises made by political leaders by saying “blah blah blah”. Speaking at a youth summit last month in Milan, Italy, Thunberg had said: “Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah.” Johnson countered that by saying that unless world leaders act, “all those promises will be nothing but blah, blah, blah”.

“It is the children who will judge us, and their children. And we are now coming centre stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity and we mustn’t bluff our lines or miss our cue because if we fail, they will not forgive us,” said Johnson, as part of Britain’s presidency of the COP26 summit.

“They will know that Glasgow was the historic turning point when history failed to turn. They will judge us with bitterness and resentment that eclipses any of the climate activists of today and they will indeed be right. COP26 will not and cannot be the end of the story on climate change,” he said.

He acknowledged the “special responsibility” the western world has to take action against climate change. “Even though for 200 years, the industrialised countries were in complete ignorance of the problem that they were creating, we now have a duty to find those funds — USD 100 billion a year that was promised in Paris by 2022, which we won’t deliver until 2023,” he said.

His keynote address was followed by an address by Prince Charles, an avid environmentalist, who called on the world’s decision-makers to find “innovative solutions” to the climate crisis. The summit will go on to hear National Statements from world leaders on their country’s climate commitments at the summit, which will run until November 12 during which India’s delegation will continue to participate in a series of breakout sessions.

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