Climate at 'one minute to midnight,' says PM - but China, Russia and Brazil snub COP26

31 October 2021, 22:37 | Updated: 1 November 2021, 11:36

  • Boris Johnson warns 'It's one minute to midnight and we need to act now' on climate
  • US President lands in Edinburgh and will travel to Glasgow for the summit
  • China's Xi Jinping will not give 'virtual' speech
  • Opening ceremony to take place later with speeches by Boris Johnson, the Prince of Wales, and Sir David Attenborough
  • Turkey's president will not attend despite being present at the G20
Boris Johnson will tell leaders to take real action instead of just talking about the climate crisis
Boris Johnson will tell leaders to take real action instead of just talking about the climate crisis. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Daisy Stephens

World leaders including US President Joe Biden were arriving for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow today, but China has snubbed the event and Turkey's president backed out of attending at the eleventh hour.

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China's Xi Jinping had already pulled out of the COP26 event, refusing to attend even virtually. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he will not be coming, despite attending the G20.

Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro, leaders of two of the world's biggest polluters, Russia and Brazil, have declined to attend. 

China already digs up and burns more coal than the rest of the world combined and has announced it is expanding mines to produce 220 million metric tons a year of extra coal, six per cent up on last year.

Joe Biden steps off Air Force One in Edinburgh
Joe Biden steps off Air Force One in Edinburgh. Picture: Alamy

Meanwhile some scientists fear the Amazon rainforest is reaching a point of no return due to deforestation.

US President Joe Biden arrived in Glasgow this morning. He will be there for two days of climate talks at the COP26 summit where he is said to be planning to make a “personal commitment” to confronting climate change in a speech later.

Huge queues were seen at the entrance for the climate summit in Glasgow today, after Boris Johnson pleaded with world leaders to back up their promises on climate change by taking action.

Mr Johnson is to warn that humanity has "run down the clock" on climate change and must get serious about action in a major speech today.

He is due to tell political leaders and delegates that "it is one minute to midnight" and urge them to take real action when he addresses them at the opening ceremony of the world leaders summit at the UN climate conference on Monday.

He will call for action on phasing out coal power, protecting and restoring forests, providing finance for countries to tackle climate change and boosting electric vehicles.

Mr Johnson will say: "Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change.

"It's one minute to midnight and we need to act now.

"If we don't get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow."

Read more: 'Ridiculous': People 'ironically' forced to fly to COP26 due to extreme weather

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

He is also expected to say: "We have to move from talk and debate and discussion to concerted, real-world action on coal, cars, cash and trees.

"Not more hopes and targets and aspirations, valuable though they are, but clear commitments and concrete timetables for change.

"We need to get real about climate change and the world needs to know when that's going to happen."

The Prime Minister is also pledging an extra £1 billion in climate finance to support developing countries by 2025 if the economy grows as forecast and the UK's aid budget returns to the 0.7 per cent of GDP level.

The UK Government has previously faced criticism for cutting the aid budget, in the run-up to the talks where delivery of a long-promised 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020 for poorer countries to develop cleanly and cope with climate impacts is a key issue for developing nations.

Ahead of the COP26 summit, a report revealed that developed countries would not mobilise the 100 billion dollar goal for public and private finance until 2023.

Read more: Forget 'trivial' fishing row or risk ruining crucial Cop26 talks, Boris and Macron told

Read more: Climate change: Why is 1.5C the magic number for controlling global warming?

Separately the UN has warned that plans by countries to cut climate-warming emissions in the next decade were not enough to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5C, beyond which increasingly severe extreme weather, rising seas and damage to crops, health and wildlife will be felt.

More than 120 leaders are set to attend the world leaders summit where countries are under pressure to increase action in the next decade to curb dangerous warming and to deliver financial support for poorer countries least responsible for - and most vulnerable to - climate change.

There are also efforts to drive action by countries, regions, and businesses to curb emissions in sectors such as power with efforts to phase out coal, as well as finalise parts of the Paris climate accord agreed in 2015 to make it effective and operational.