COP26: Boris Johnson says talks to reach deal at climate summit could go into ‘extra time’

Boris Johnson urged other world leaders to “grasp the opportunity” offered by COP26 as the summit in Glasgow approaches the end

COP26 could see the “first genuine” roadmap for a solution to climate change, and talks could go into “extra time” to reach a deal, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister, who was speaking at COP26 in Glasgow, appealed to other world leaders to grasp the opportunity offered by the talks and not to “stand in the way”.

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He had spent the day meeting with negotiators and ministers - and he said the conference will not “fix” the issue in one go

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson said while the Paris agreement was “significant” it was a pledge of action still to come
  • First draft of “cover decision” on deal was published on Wednesday
  • If talks go well in the remaining days then COP26 could see the “first genuine” roadmap for solution to climate change
  • PM said conference is not going to “fix” climate change in one go
  • He told the conference finance was key to progress

What did Boris Johnson say?

Speaking at a press conference at the summit, the Prime Minister said: “Here in Glasgow the world is closer than it has ever been to signalling the beginning of the end of anthropogenic climate change.

“It is now within reach. At COP26 in these final days we just need to reach out together and grasp it.

“So my question to my fellow world leaders as we enter the last hours of COP26 is: will you help us do that? Will you help us grasp the opportunity or will you stand in the way?”

He also expressed frustration at countries having “spent six years conspicuously patting themselves on the back” after the Paris climate agreement.

He said: “That 2015 agreement in Paris was a significant moment in the fight against climate change, but it was ultimately a pledge of action still to come.

“And it’s very frustrating to see countries that have spent six years conspicuously patting themselves on the back for signing that promissory note in Paris quietly edging towards default now that vulnerable nations and future generations are demanding payment here now in Glasgow.”

Boris Johnson speaking at the conference.

What could be the outcome from COP26?

Mr Johnson spoke of his hopes that an agreement could be reached in the final days of the summit.

He said: “What we can possibly do, if things go well in the remaining 48 hours, 52 hours, whatever we’ve got – and I don’t see why we shouldn’t go into extra time if we have to, but you know I don’t want to – is the possibility that we will come away from this with the first genuine road map for a solution to anthropogenic climate change that I can think of in my lifetime.”

He said the most depressing thing about climate change has been that it “doesn’t really look as though it’s capable of being fixed any time soon”.

But he said we need to “keep holding nations and governments to account, and of course corporations as well, and businesses as well.”

He said he had spent his second trip to the summit talking to ministerial negotiating teams and encouraging them to focus on “three pillars” of adaptation, mitigation and finance.

The Prime Minster said: “It’s finance that will, if we can unlock this, if we can make progress, it will depend on the finance and that fundamental compact between the developing world, the climate-vulnerable world, and we in the developed world, who are overwhelmingly responsible historically for emissions, and who continue to be responsible for so, so much of the emissions around the world.”

What was in the first draft of ‘cover decision’

The first draft of a deal for COP26 calls on countries to strengthen their emissions-cutting plans in the next year in a bid to keep a goal to limit warming to 1.5C within reach.

It also calls for faster phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels – a first for a UN deal – but there is likely to be strong resistance to this from some countries and it could be taken out of any final agreement.

Developing countries and campaigners have also raised concerns over the provision of finance for poorer nations to cope with the impact of climate change in the draft deal.

The final version of the draft must be agreed by a consensus of nearly 200 countries at the Glasgow summit.

Scientists have warned that keeping temperature rises to 1.5C, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change which would be felt with greater warming, requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030, and to zero overall by mid-century – but countries’ plans for this decade leave the world well off track.

The draft was published after analysis warned existing plans for this decade put the world on track for 2.4C of warming – well above the goals internationally agreed in the Paris accord to curb temperature rises to “well below” 2C and try to limit them to 1.5C.

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