Boris Johnson 'increasingly frustrated' over efforts to tackle climate crisis

20 September 2021, 20:08

Boris Johnson spoke at the UN General Assembly.
Boris Johnson spoke at the UN General Assembly. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told world leaders he is "increasingly frustrated" over climate inaction.

Mr Johnson issued a stark warning that commitments to tackle the issue were "nowhere near enough" during a meeting at the United Nations in New York.

He urged nations to redouble their efforts to hit a key financing pledge to help developing nations, which he said they had only a "six out of 10" chance of hitting before the Cop26 climate summit in November.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson said "everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done".

"Yet, I confess I'm increasingly frustrated that the 'something' to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough," he explained.

"It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.

"And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen... it remains vast.

"Too many major economies - some represented here today, some absent - are lagging too far behind."

Read more: Climate activist seriously injured and crew member dies in tragic paramotor accident

Read more: M25 eco-mob issues ultimatum to government over disruption

A target of $100 billion (£73 billion) was previously put in place to support developing nations in cutting their carbon emissions and protect themselves against environmental change, with Mr Johnson saying there would be consequeneces if industrialised nations did not deliver.

"If you say that the lives of their children are not worth the hassle of reducing domestic coal consumption, will they vote with you in fora such as this?" he said.

"Will they work with you, borrow from you, stand with you if you tell the world that you don't care whether their land and their people slip below the waves?

"To be merely a bystander is to be complicit in their fate - yet that is exactly what you will be if you fail to act this year."

Read more: 'Don't lecture me!' Nick Ferrari tears a strip off M25 eco mob protester

However, Joe Biden's climate envoy, John Kerry, remained positive in hopes to reach the target, suggesting the US could announce more money.

Asked by Sky News if Mr Biden will announce more funds this week, the adviser said: "I'm not hoping... I'm telling you to stay tuned into the president's speech and we'll see where we are."

Mr Johnson said he would wait to see what Mr Biden had to say, and that an increased US commitment would make a "huge difference" but "we are not counting our chickens".

"We have been here before, we have all heard lots of pledges, lots of positive noises, let's see where we get to," he told reporters in New York.

But a change in the US commitment would "send a massively powerful signal to the world", Mr Johnson added.

Downing Street has said developed countries have "collectively failed" on their target, with OECD figures last week showing that only 79.6 billion dollars in climate finance was mobilised in 2019.

The Prime Minister is set to meet former Amazon boss Jeff Bezos on Monday and vowed to tell him the online giant must pay its fair share of taxes in the UK and address working standards for employees.

He also spoke with Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro - a notorious climate change sceptic - during a separate meeting.