Boris Johnson warns Paris Agreement will crumple without Cop26 success

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the closing press conference at the G20 summit in Rome, Italy (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the closing press conference at the G20 summit in Rome, Italy (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson has issued a stark warning that failure at the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow will mean the whole effort to curb emissions will have foundered.

On the eve of the gathering in Scotland, the Prime Minister said the goal of the Paris agreement six years ago of keeping global warming down to 1.5C depended on developed nations contributing more.

At the end of the G20 summit in Rome he said they had made some progress but that the outcome of the talks in Glasgow intended to deliver on those commitments remained “in the balance”.

He said: “If Glasgow fails, than the whole thing fails.

“The Paris agreement will have crumpled at the first reckoning.

“The world’s only viable mechanism for dealing with climate change will be holed beneath the waterline.

“Right now the Paris Agreement and the hope that came with it is just a piece of paper.”

Mr Johnson said that they had “inched forward” in the Italian capital but it was “nip and tuck, touch and go” whether they would make further progress over the next two weeks in Scotland.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (fifth right), joins G20 leaders during a visit to the Trevi fountain in Rome (Jeff J Mitchell/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (fifth right), joins G20 leaders during a visit to the Trevi fountain in Rome (Jeff J Mitchell/PA) (PA Wire)

In particular he highlighted the failure of the final G20 communique to make any mention of phasing out domestic coal consumption.

“That is the really important question,” he said.

The Conservative Party leader added: “We have had a reasonable G20 but there is a huge amount to do.”

The result of the G20 was that leaders agreed on carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century” as focus now turns towards the United Nations climate talks.

Politicians in attendance in Italy also pledged to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad.

But the Prime Minister, who was due to fly to Glasgow for the climate conference following the press briefing, said environmental promises made by leading nations were “starting to sound hollow” as he criticised the lack of action by G20 partners.

The Prime Minister said Cop26’s global warming limiting aims ‘hang in the balance’ after the G20 summit (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
The Prime Minister said Cop26’s global warming limiting aims ‘hang in the balance’ after the G20 summit (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

He told reporters he agreed with the suggestion that the target of all G20 nations having net zero carbon economies “by or around mid-century” was too vague, adding that he wanted those pledging to achieve it by 2060 to “bring those commitments earlier”.

Mr Johnson added: “Just 12 G20 members are committed to reach net zero by 2050 or earlier; barely half of us have submitted improved plans for how we will cut carbon emissions since the Paris summit in 2015.

“We’ve also failed to meet our commitments to provide 100 billion dollars a year to support developing countries to grow in a clean and sustainable way.”

Asked at the post-summit briefing whether enough had been pledged in Rome to prevent global warming above 1.5C, Mr Johnson replied: “I think 1.5 is very much in the balance.

“Currently, let’s be in no doubt, we are not going to hit it and we have to be honest with ourselves. So we’ve got to keep that hope alive.”

Labour shadow business and energy secretary Ed Miliband said there needed to be greater action at Glasgow from world leaders.

The former Opposition leader, in a statement published on Twitter, said: “The words from G20 leaders are a small step forward but we need a giant leap at Cop26.

“We need to halve global emissions by 2030, not rely on vague plans for three decades’ time.”

Cop26 President Alok Sharma said: “The science is clear and G20 countries have responded by committing to set plans consistent with mid-century net zero emissions, and enhancing their 2030 targets, to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.”

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