Prime Minister Boris Johnson blasted countries “not yet doing their fair share” to tackle climate change ahead of the COP26 summit and warned “if Glasgow fails then the whole thing fails”
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Boris Johnson has admitted the COP26 summit may be heading for “failure” in a furious swipe at fellow G20 leaders.
The Prime Minister confessed the world is currently “not going to hit” its goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C.
And singling out China, Saudi Arabia and Russia, he complained many of his fellow leaders were “not yet doing their fair share of the work”.
In a gloomy press conference before he flew to the climate gathering of 196 nations in Glasgow, he said: “If we are going to prevent COP26 from being a failure, then that must change.
“If Glasgow fails then the whole thing fails. The Paris Agreement will have crumbled at the first reckoning.
“The world’s only viable mechanism for dealing with climate changed will be holed beneath the water line.”
He added: “It’s nip and tuck, it’s touch and go. We could do it, or we could fail by the middle of November.”
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Boris Johnson said “I agree” the G20 target to get to Net Zero “by or around” the middle of the century is too vague.
“Some countries as you know have made a commitment to 2060 [or earlier] rather than 2050,” he said.
“What we want to do is bring those commitments earlier.”
China, Saudi Arabia and Russia have all pledged to get to Net Zero by 2060.
World leaders are behind with pledges to donate $100billion a year to poorer nations and cut 28 gigatons of emissions by 2030.
Yet G20 leaders reached a 20-page agreement on climate issues that gave few new pledges.
The 20 nations said: “Keeping 1.5C within reach will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries.”
But the document said only that nations’ emissions targets should be strengthened “if necessary” and watered down a 2050 date for the world to hit Net Zero.
Instead the leaders recognised “the key relevance” of halting net emissions “by or around mid-century”.
Mr Johnson said the G20 had “inched forward” by agreeing to end international public finance for “unabated” coal power by Christmas.
He also praised Net Zero commitments by Saudi Arabia, Australia and Russia.
But he said it was not enough, saying: “These commitments, welcome as they are, are drops in a rapidly warming ocean”.
And he singled out China for only promising Net Zero by 2060, not 2050.
Oxfam Senior Advisor Jörn Kalinski said: “Despite the amazing coffee in Rome, G20 leaders must have been drinking decaf, as their collective results were muted, unambitious, and lacking concrete action plans.”
Mr Johnson warned promises like his were “starting to sound frankly hollow”, adding: “I think 1.5 is very much in the balance
“Currently – let’s be in no doubt – we are not going to hit it and we have to be honest with ourselves.”
He went on: “If we don’t act now the Paris Agreement will be looked at in the future not as the moment humanity opened its eyes to the problem but the moment we flinched and turned away.”
The PM called for new detailed agreements from individual countries, “otherwise the increase in temperatures will be considerably in excess of 1.5C. I’m not going to sugar-coat it”.
But the Prime Minister has been branded a hypocrite and accused of not going far enough himself over climate issues. His Net Zero strategy contained enough £5,000 grants for only 90,000 homes to replace their gas boilers with heat pumps.
He announced £160m in start-up funding for floating wind turbines, but the UK’s first five floating turbines alone cost more than that.
And the Sunday Mirror today revealed he had taken 20 private political and campaigning flights – mainly within the UK.
We asked the PM’s Press Secretary if he was too busy or important to take the train.
She replied: “Obviously you’ll be aware particularly during election campaigns, but at all times, it’s important for the Prime Minister and other leaders to visit as many communities as possible.
“And sometimes there are more efficient ways of doing things. But at all times we take into account the environmental aspects, and pursue the necessary offsets.”