Boris Johnson tells world leaders: time to grow up and tackle climate change

The Prime Minister will use his speech to the United Nations to urge counterparts to ‘show we have the maturity and wisdom to act’.

Boris Johnson visit to US
Boris Johnson visit to US

Boris Johnson will tell world leaders humanity needs to “grow up” and stop behaving like an adolescent trashing the planet as he demands tougher action to tackle climate change.

The Prime Minister will use his speech to the United Nations General Assembly (Unga) to call on countries to commit to stricter targets for cutting emissions and offer extra cash to help poorer nations.

The speech in New York on Wednesday is an attempt by Mr Johnson to cajole his counterparts into action ahead of the Cop26 climate summit he is hosting in Glasgow in November.

Mr Johnson will compare the current stage of human history to a teenager who has discovered how to “unlock the drinks cabinet”.

“We believe that someone else will clear up the mess we make, because that is what someone else has always done,” he will say.

“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.”

But “the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end” and “we are approaching that critical turning point, in less than two months, when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are doing, not just to our planet but to ourselves”.

Warning of the risk that mankind could make “this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable” Mr Johnson will say: “It is time for humanity to grow up.

“It is time for us to listen to the warnings of the scientists and look at Covid, if you want an example of gloomy scientists being proved right, and to understand who we are and what we are doing.

“The world, this precious blue sphere with its eggshell crust and wisp of an atmosphere, is not some indestructible toy, some bouncy plastic romper room against which we can hurl ourselves to our heart’s content.”

The Cop26 summit must be “the turning point for humanity” to take action to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5C.

“We must come together in a collective coming of age.

“We must show we have the maturity and wisdom to act.

“And we can.”

As part of the effort, the Prime Minister will commit that 30% of investments made by the UK’s development finance body CDC will be ring fenced for climate projects, up from just 5% five years ago.

The money comes on top of existing UK commitments to provide £11.6 billion in climate finance over five years from 2021/22 to 2025/26.

Mr Johnson’s speech to UNGA comes a day after US President Joe Biden committed to a further doubling of public climate finance to help poorer countries tackle the crisis.

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