Glasgow climate talks “simply must succeed”, Boris Johnson has said, as he urged representatives to arrive at COP26 in November armed with the commitments needed to “take us to net zero sooner rather than later”.
Speaking ahead of the UN General Assembly in the US next week, and with only a few weeks to go until the major climate summit hosted by the UK, the prime minister called on world leaders to be ambitious in their promises to keep within reach the aim of limiting the warming of the planet to 1.5C.
Addressing the Major Economies Forum on energy and climate change on Friday afternoon, which was convened by US President Joe Biden, the prime minister called for delegates from countries around the globe to take seriously ending coal power, shifting to electric vehicles and halting deforestation.
Mr Johnson also set out how the UK will be among the first signatories of the Global Methane Pledge, a US-EU initiative to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared with levels during the 2020s.
The initiative is due to be officially launched at COP26 in Glasgow.
Speaking at the forum, the prime minister said “this is the most important period I think now in the history of the planet – because COP simply must succeed”.
He added that this is “only going to happen” if those attending the climate summit “come to Glasgow armed with the commitments that will enable us to keep that increase of 1.5C within reach and take us to net zero sooner rather than later, and hopefully by the middle of the century”.
Mr Johnson continued: “I’m very pleased to say the UK will be among the very first to sign the Methane Pledge, because it is a microcosm of the challenges we face.”
The prime minister said the G20 currently lacks “the ambition needed” for the world to “slash its output of this powerful greenhouse gas”.
He added: “That, in a nutshell, is what we face with the whole climate conundrum.
“We know what’s going to happen if we fail to reach net zero. You heard Joe [Biden] describe the consequences we’re already seeing on our planet today.
“We know how to fix it, we know how to get there, and we’re continuously generating ever-more innovative ways of doing that.”
Calling on other world leaders to show the “ambition and dedication required to bring it all together”, Mr Johnson concluded his remarks by stating: “So let’s show the leadership the world needs, let’s do our duty by others who are less fortunate than ourselves, and let’s use these 1,000 hours to set a course that will protect our planet, protect humanity, for a thousand years to come.”
It comes as the UK prepares to host the major climate conference at the end of October and beginning of November where world leaders will meet in person to discuss the climate crisis at a meeting known as Conference of the Parties (COP).
The “parties” – the more than 190 countries who signed up to the United Nations’s (UN) climate change body – meet once a year to negotiate on how to best tackle climate change.
However, the conference did not take place in 2020 when the pandemic postponed the 26th instalment.
The UK government has said its four main goals for COP26 are: to secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep limit of 1.5C temperature increase within reach; to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats; to mobilise finance; and to collaborate to deliver.
Elsewhere on Friday, the prime minister held the first meeting of his newly-refreshed cabinet after a reshuffle took place this week.
He told his new ministerial team: “We are going to deliver thereby in tackling the problems of climate change we are going to deliver high wage, high skilled jobs across the country – because that is what the people of this country want to see.
“They want to see a government that is totally focussed on them, on their quality of life, on helping them to enjoy all the opportunities that this amazing country has to offer.
“And it’s by working as a team that we will succeed and deliver for the people of this country.”