British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the global climate summit on Monday, saying the world is strapped to a “doomsday device”. Johnson likened an ever-warming Earth’s position to that of fictional secret agent James Bond — strapped to a bomb that will destroy the planet and trying to work out how to defuse it.
“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... it’s ‘one minute to midnight’ to prevent climate catastrophe.”
The threat is climate change triggered by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, and he pointed out that it all started in Glasgow with James Watt's steam engine powered by coal.
He was kicking off the world leaders’ summit portion of a UN climate conference, which is aimed at getting agreement to curb carbon emissions fast enough to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) below pre-industrial levels.
The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). Current projections based on planned emissions cuts over the next decade are for it to hit 2.7C (4.9F) by the year 2100. Johnson told the summit that humanity had run down the clock when it comes to climate change, and the time for action is now. He pointed out that the more than 130 world leaders who gathered had an average age of over 60, while the generations most harmed by climate change aren’t yet born. Britain’s leader struck a gloomy note on the eve of the conference, after leaders from the Group of 20 major economies made only modest climate commitments at their summit in Rome this weekend.
French President Emmanuel Macron chided other nations for forgetting the values of ambition, solidarity and trust that helped drive the Paris Agreement in 2015, as he demanded greater ambition from the richest countries and biggest polluters.
Those countries responsible for the most greenhouse-gas emissions must scale up in their efforts over the next two weeks, Macron said, arguing that’s the only way “for us to give credibility back to our strategy” and be able to keep warming below targets. Macron also insisted that rich countries that have lagged behind in contributing their share toward a $100 billion-per-year climate finance commitment for developing nations must immediately step up. The richest countries must set an example and “speed up this financing,” he said, without naming any nations. “I would like to appeal to those countries that are not contributing what they should today to meet their responsibilities between now and the end of COP so that we can fulfill this obligation that we undertook in Paris.”
Trudeau announces cap on emissions
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would immediately put a cap on emissions from the oil and gas industry, confirming a pre-election pledge made in September. “That’s no small task for a major oil and gas producing country,” he said.
The COP26 climate summit must act to “save humanity” and protect the planet, UN chief Antonio Guterres said, warning that currently “we are digging our own graves".
“Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”