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Boris Johnson today sought to step up pressure on world leaders to do more to tackle global warming as he warned the planet risked being plunged back into a new “Dark Ages” by a failure to act.
While welcoming Australia’s commitment to net zero by 2050, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We do believe Australia can do more on areas such as coal.”
No10 also stressed that the Prime Minister “hopes Italy will lead the way in making further commitments on coal, cars and trees in the days ahead.”
Mr Johnson put the chances of success at the COP26 summit at six out of ten.
However, China is not expected to make any new commitment to move more quickly away from coal to bring forward its net zero goal from 2060.
The Prime Minister spoke to Chinese president Xi Jinping yesterday but the latter made no commitments to try to peak his country’s emissions before 2030.
US president Joe Biden also needs to be able to push his plans through Congress for America to go green, with significant progress also needed from many nations including Russia, India and Korea.
Mr Johnson was this afternoon meeting Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, as he seeks more commitments from EU states as he pursues his “coal, cars, cash and trees” environmental agenda.
Scientists warn that the world must limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels, to avoid the most catastrophic impact of climate change with devastating floods, fires and heatwaves.
Speaking to ITV News, Mr Johnson admitted: “There is no chance of us getting an agreement next week to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees.
“What we could conceivably do if everybody gets their act together..is get an agreement that means that COP26 in Glasgow is a way station that allows us to end climate change and allows us to keep alive that dream of restricting the growth to 1.5 degrees. That would make a huge difference to the prospect of humanity.’’
Standing in Rome’s Colosseum, the Prime Minister likened the impact of unrestricted climate change to the fall of the Roman Empire.
“When the Roman Empire fell, it was largely as a result of uncontrolled immigration,” he said.
“The Empire could no longer control its borders, people came in from the east, and we went into a Dark Ages.
“The point of that is to say it can happen again.
“People should not be so conceited as to imagine that history is a one-way ratchet.”
COP26 had been seeking to get wealthy nations to commit $100 billion a year (£73 billion) to help poor countries go green, avoiding having to depend for several more decades on fossil fuels.
This target is not expected to be achieved until 2023 but over the next five years the average could be $100 billion, though environmentalists are sceptical it will be fully delivered.