World leaders this week achieving a deal that will keep global warming to the crucial 1.5 degrees target would be “tough, but not impossible”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
“But I won’t pretend it’s a done deal.”
Johnson said that securing that crucial agreement at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, which is scheduled to end on Friday, “will depend on finance”.
There are three interrelated pillars that have to be “got right” for the talks to succeed are adaptation, mitigation and finance, with finance proving to be the main challenge.
He told reporters it is “very frustrating” to see nations that since signing the landmark Paris accord have spent “six years conspicuously patting themselves on the back, quietly edging towards default now that vulnerable nations and future generations are demanding payment here and now in Glasgow”.
Johnson called on world leaders not, or no longer, at COP26 to pick up the phone to their ministerial delegations so that a consensus can be reached and an agreement in place before the summit officially ends on Friday.
“We will have to pull out all the stops if we are going to do what we came here to do, and that’s keep 1.5 [degrees Celsius] alive and make Paris the success the world needs it to be.
“Here in Glasgow, the world is closer than it has ever been to signalling the beginning of the end of anthropogenic climate change… it’s the greatest gift we can possibly bestow on our children and our grandchildren and the generations unborn,” said an impassioned Johnson.
“It’s now within reach at COP26. In these final days we just need to reach out to get and grasp it.”
He said his question today to fellow world leaders was whether they would help him grasp that opportunity or whether “they would stand in his way”.
Ever pragmatic, Johnson said: “We’ve got to be honest. The COP26 summit here in Glasgow is not going to fix it [climate change] in one go. We’re not going to arrest climate change right here, right now – that is just impossible.
“But what we can possibly do if things go well in the remaining 48, 52 hours, whatever we’ve got — and I don’t see why we shouldn’t go into extra time if we have to, but I don’t want to — there is the possibility that we will come away from this with the first genuine roadmap for a solution to anthropogenic climate change,” he said.
The UK premier would not be drawn on which nations were playing hardball in negotiations, especially with regard to any stated commitment to phase out the use of fossil fuels. But the US, Saudi Arabia and China have been put in the frame by ministerial delegations and non-governmental organisations alike.
“Negotiations are getting tough,” admitted the UK PM, adding “we need to be more ambitious, and we need more credible plans for implementation”.
“We have to bridge the gap from where we are and where we need to be if we are going to cut emissions in half by 2030,” he said.
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