'Cop26 is the last hope to save our precious planet' as UK takes centre stage

31 October 2021, 12:23

Boris Johnson and Prince Charles have warned of the consequences of failing to take action on the climate
Boris Johnson and Prince Charles have warned of the consequences of failing to take action on the climate. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Crucial Cop26 climate talks this week are the "last, best hope" to keep to a rise of 1.5C in temperature, delegates have been told.

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Alok Sharma, the Conservative MP serving as president of the UN gathering this week, said we can "save our precious planet" if leaders act now.

His comments came amid a major drive by key British figures to secure a deal on climate action, which has seen Boris Johnson warn humanity could see a Roman Empire-style collapse. He hopes the talks will be seen as a major win for the UK.

And Prince Charles told leaders at the G20 summit in Italy, ahead of the Cop26 talks in Glasgow, that the world is in the "last chance saloon" for taking action.

Opening the conference, Mr Sharma said: "The rapidly-changing climate is sounding an alarm to the world to step up on adaptation to address loss and damage, and to act now to keep 1.5 alive.

"We know that this Cop, Cop26, is our last, best hope to keep 1.5 in reach."

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He added: "I believe that we can resolve the outstanding issues. We can move the negotiations forward and we can launch a decade of ever-increasing ambition and action.

"Together we can seize the enormous opportunities for green growth for good, green jobs for cheaper, cleaner power.

"We need to hit the ground running to develop the solutions that we need. And that work starts today - and we succeed or fail as one."

He finished his speech by saying: "If we act now, and we act together, we can protect our precious planet.

"So, let's come together in these two weeks and ensure that where Paris promised, Glasgow delivers."

It is hoped the talks, which lead on from the landmark Paris agreement, will see countries sign up to measures that will limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C and ensure net zero emissions by 2050.

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The conference's success hangs in the balance, with leaders of some major polluters like China and Russia declining to attend.

Nonetheless, Cop26 is expected to be one of the biggest UK-hosted events, according to Downing Street, which expects 25,000 delegates to travel from 196 countries and the European Union.

The UK's focus on the talks was hit home by Prince Charles, who told leaders at the G20 on Sunday: "Quite literally, it is the last-chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions.

"As the enormity of the climate challenge dominates people's conversations, from newsrooms to living rooms, and as the future of humanity and nature herself are at stake, it is surely time to set aside our differences and grasp this unique opportunity to launch a substantial green recovery by putting the global economy on a confident, sustainable trajectory and, thus, save our planet."