Fail and we will be judged with bitterness and resentment: PM

Boris Johnson has warned world leaders that they will be judged with “bitterness and resentment” by future generations if they fail to tackle global warming.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 7:42 am

Around 120 heads of state and government are attending the world leaders’ summit at the start of the Cop26 talks, where countries are under pressure to increase action in the next decade to tackle dangerous warming.

There is also pressure on developed countries to deliver a long-promised 100 billion dollars a year – and more – in climate finance to help poorer nations develop cleanly and deal with the already inevitable impacts of a warming planet.

In a series of stark speeches, the leaders including US President Joe Biden, India’s Narendra Modi and German chancellor Angela Merkel, were urged to act for the sake of future generations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the opening ceremony for the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Cop26 summit the world’s “addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink”.

Pointing to melting glaciers, relentless extreme weather events, sea level rise and overheating oceans, he warned: “We are digging our own graves”.

In his speech, the prime minister said the children who would judge today’s leaders are children not yet born, and their children.

“We are now coming centre stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity and we must not fluff our lines or miss our cue.

“Because if we fail, they will not forgive us – they will know that Glasgow was the historic turning point when history failed to turn.

“They will judge us with bitterness and with a resentment that eclipses any of the climate activists of today, and they will be right.”

Coining a phrase from activist Greta Thunberg, he warned that the promises to limit global temperature rises under the Paris Agreement would be “nothing but blah blah blah”.

And the anger and impatience of the world would be “uncontainable” unless Cop26 was the moment leaders got real about climate change, he said.

Naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough warned humanity is “already in trouble” due to burning fossil fuels, destroying nature and releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

He said those who have done the least to cause the problem are being the hardest hit.

He asked: “Is this how our story is due to end – a tale of the smartest species doomed by that all too human characteristic of failing to see the bigger picture in pursuit of short-term goals?”

He added: “Perhaps the fact that the people affected by climate change are no longer some imagined future generations but young people alive today, perhaps that will give us the impetus we need to rewrite our story, to turn this tragedy into a triumph.”

And the Prince of Wales urged the world to be on a “war-like footing” to tackle climate change.