UK PM urges 'determined push' for climate change deal

By: AFP      Published: 11:56 PM, 10 Nov, 2021
UN COP26 summit
UK PM urges 'determined push' for climate change deal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said a UN climate change summit had made progress towards halting runaway global warming but more was needed to seal a deal.

"We've moved the ball a long way down the pitch, but we're stuck in a bit of a rolling maul," the rugby-loving prime minister said at the UN COP26 summit, which ends on Friday.

"If we're going to get there, we need a determined push to get us over the line," he told a news conference.

Johnson's intervention in the frantic final hours of the two-week summit in Glasgow came as a draft text urged countries to boost their emissions cutting goals by 2022.

The UN text gave the first sense of the state of play after data showed carbon reduction pledges made so far left the world far short of limiting heating to 1.5 Celsius.

The summit is hoping to build on the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which called for capping global warming at well below 2.0C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally 1.5C.

But Johnson said it was "very frustrating to see countries that have spent six years conspicuously patting themselves on the back for signing that promissory note in Paris quietly edging towards default now that vulnerable nations and future generations are demanding payment here and now."

He said world leaders had "no excuse" after hearing wrenching testimony of those affected by global warming, particularly island nations, whose existence is threatened.

Johnson said his counterparts could not credibly applaud their interventions but then sit on their hands.

"Here in Glasgow, the world is closer than it has ever been to signalling the beginning of the end of anthropogenic climate change," he added.

"It's the greatest gift we can possibly bestow on our children and our grandchildren, and generations unborn. It's now within our reach at COP26 in these final days, we just need to reach out together and grasp it. 

"And so, my question to my fellow world leaders this afternoon, as we enter the last hours of COP is will you help us do that, will you help us grasp that opportunity or will you stand in the way?"