PM admits delight at climate pact is 'tinged with disappointment' after watered-down deal

14 November 2021, 17:26 | Updated: 14 November 2021, 18:13

COP26 president Alok Sharma and Boris Johnson.
COP26 president Alok Sharma and Boris Johnson. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Boris Johnson has hailed the COP26 deal a "game-changing agreement" but has admitted his delight at the pact is "tinged with disappointment".

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Despite the achievements of the summit, the Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference that those who are already being affected by climate change "demanded a high level of ambition" from world leaders.

He said: "Those for whom climate change is already a matter of life and death, who can only stand by as their islands are submerged, their farm land turned to desert, their homes battered by storms, they demanded a high level of ambition from this summit.

"While many of us were willing to go there, that wasn't true of everybody. Sadly that's the nature of diplomacy."

"We can lobby, we can cajole, we can encourage, but we cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do.

"It's ultimately their decision to make and they must stand by it."

Read more: 'Historic' global climate deal agreed at COP26 after two weeks of tense talks

Mr Johnson did however share his optimism following the historic deal, and praised the work of COP president Alok Sharma and his team.

"I know it's tempting to be cynical and to dismiss these types of summits as talking shops," he told the press conference.

"But we came to Cop with a call for real action on coal, cars, cash and trees, and real action is exactly what we got."

Mr Sharma said he would have "preferred stronger language" in relation to coal but argued that Cop26 had "moved the goalposts in terms of our generation and future generations".

He said what now needs to be done is to make sure that commitments made at the summit are honoured and delivered on. Mr Johnson added: "What we're doing now is bringing together coalitions of supportive countries, adding in the finance, leveraging the private sector to help those countries who find it difficult to move beyond coal to decarbonise and that's the exciting agenda that Cop26 in Glasgow has lifted off and that's what we are going to be building on."

Asked to give a rating for the summit agreement out of 10, Mr Johnson replied: "I think my last number was six out of 10 chance of success I said.

"It's over six out of 10."

The panel was also asked what they will do "personally" to help curb climate change.

The PM said he "used to go everywhere by bike", which "made some small contribution".

While Mr Sharma had been asked how he got to London so quickly - he says he travelled by train and electric car.

This story is being updated