In advance excerpts of a speech Johnson will give to the U.N. General Assembly late Wednesday released by the British government, he compares humanity to a 16-year-old, “just old enough to get ourselves into serious trouble.”
“We have come to that fateful age when we know roughly how to drive and we know how to unlock the drinks cabinet and to engage in all sorts of activity that is not only potentially embarrassing but also terminal,” the speech reads.
He warns that humanity needs to stop trashing the planet with the expectations that someone else will clean up the mess, instead putting pressure on world leaders to take initiative.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Johnson is due to host a major U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in six weeks. He is using a trip to the U.N. General Assembly in New York to press governments for tougher emissions-cutting targets and more money to help poor countries clean up their economies.
In a speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday, he’ll say it’s now or never if the world is to meet its goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
“I’ll be saying to the U.N. general assembly tonight: ‘This is it, folks,'” Johnson said Wednesday in Washington. “This is the moment when humanity comes to an inflection point, and we either take the steps necessary to avert a catastrophic increase in temperatures over the next hundred years, or we fail.”
“We believe that someone else will clear up the mess we make, because that is what someone else has always done,” the speech reads. “We trash our habitats again and again with the inductive reasoning that we have got away with it so far, and therefore we will get away with it again.
“My friends, the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end,” Johnson, said, adding: “We must come together in a collective coming of age.”
Hopes for a successful Glasgow summit have been boosted by announcements this week from the world’s two biggest economies and largest carbon polluters, the United States and China. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad, while U.S. President Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid for green growth to poorer nations to $11.4 billion by 2024.
Britain has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and Johnson has championed the expansion of renewable energy, saying the U.K. could become the “Saudi Arabia of wind.” But he is under fire from environmentalists for failing to scrap new North Sea oil drilling and a proposed new coal mine in northwest England.