PM lists three cities that could be lost if no climate action is taken

1 November 2021, 12:51 | Updated: 1 November 2021, 14:07

Boris Johnson has delivered his speech at the opening ceremony at COP26.
Boris Johnson has delivered his speech at the opening ceremony at COP26. Picture: Getty

By Sophie Barnett

Boris Johnson has listed three cities that could be "lost beneath the waves" if no action is taken to prevent rising temperatures, in a stark warning at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

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The Prime Minister said we risk saying "goodbye to whole cities" if the temperature of the globe rises to four degrees.

He told the opening ceremony on Monday: "Four degrees and we say goodbye to whole cities, Miami, Alexandria, Shanghai, all lost beneath the waves.

"The longer we fail to act and the worse it gets and the higher the price when we are forced by catastrophe to act."

Boris Johnson has said 'four degrees and we say goodbye to whole cities' – including Miami, pictured.
Boris Johnson has said 'four degrees and we say goodbye to whole cities' – including Miami, pictured. Picture: Getty

The PM spoke at the summit in Glasgow on Monday, where he was joined by Sir David Attenborough and Prince Charles.

He urged that COP26 must mark the beginning of the end of climate change.

"If summits alone solve climate change then we wouldn't have needed 25 previous COP summits to get where we are today," he said.

"But while COP26 will not be the end of climate change it can and it must mark the beginning of the end."

He added: "In the years since Paris the world has slowly and with great effort and pain built a lifeboat for humanity and now is the time to give that lifeboat a mighty shove into the water like some great liner rolling down the slipways of the Clyde.

"Take a sexton sighting on 1.5 degrees and set off on a journey to a cleaner greener future."

The 2015 Paris agreement saw 196 countries make a legally-binding commitment to limiting global warming to within 1.5C of pre-industrial levels.

In order to achieve this goal, countries will take increasingly ambitious climate action - revised on a cycle every five years - known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Countries were due to submit their NDCs at COP26 in 2020 - but because of the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, those NDCs are now due at the summit.

The Paris agreement pledges to keep warming within 1.5C because, whilst this temperature increase would have some impact, it would avoid the catastrophic effects that a 2C rise would likely see.If there was an increase of 2C, a third of the world's population would be "regularly" exposed to severe heat.

This would cause an increase in heat-related deaths and a rise in some health problems.

Read more: Ed Miliband: COP26 needs to be a 'global embarrassment mechanism'

An increase of 2C would also be disastrous for our natural world. Almost all warm water coral reefs - which, among other things, act as a habitat for many species and a buffer for storms - would be destroyed.

The Arctic sea ice would melt completely for at least one summer each decade, and the irreversible loss of ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic could cause sea levels to rise by several metres over the next few centuries.

This would have a huge impact on wildlife and human communities alike.