'If we don't act now, it'll be too late': PM pushes leaders on climate before G20

29 October 2021, 22:35 | Updated: 30 October 2021, 10:54

Boris Johnson will make the comments at the G20 summit in Rome.
Boris Johnson will make the comments at the G20 summit in Rome. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson will urge leaders of the world's biggest economies to deliver on their commitments to cut carbon emissions at the G20 summit.

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The Prime Minister will be joined by representatives from around the world for the event in Rome, providing a key opportunity to get a head start with upcoming climate negotiations.

It comes as COP26 is set to formally open in Glasgow on Monday.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson would be taking a tough message that the countries which had done most to cause global warming now had to make themselves accountable to nations experiencing the most severe consequences.

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The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that, while more countries were coming forward with commitments to net zero emissions, more needed to be done if they were to meet the goal set in the Paris Agreement, limiting global temperature increases to 1.5C.

"COP26 needs to mark the beginning of the end of climate change," the spokesman said.

"The next few days are a critical moment for world leaders to demonstrate that they can show the climate ambition needed.

"The success of COP26 still hangs in the balance.

"Too many countries are doing too little.

"As the countries with the greatest historic and modern contributions to global warming who have built their economies on the backs of burning fossil fuels, G20 offers the key to unlocking global action and making progress we so badly need to live up to our commitments.

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"While G20 countries are overwhelmingly responsible for the problem the poorer nations are already reaping the consequences.

"Climate-vulnerable countries are increasingly experiencing flooding, wild fires, heat waves and the prospect of their economies being devastated due to climate change.

"On Monday G20 leaders will come face-to-face with leaders from those countries at COP26 and will have to account for their actions.

"If we don't act now, it will be too late."

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It comes after numerous key players - including China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin - said they would not be attending either the G20 or COP26 in person, although they are expected to send delegations.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said that it was important to keep making progress, insisting the UK was leading by example with publication earlier this month of the world's first comprehensive net zero strategy.

He said that if they were to succeed in reaching global net zero by the middle of the century it meant halving emissions by the end of the decade.

"What success looks like is ensuring that we have commitments sufficient to keep 1.5 alive," the spokesman said.

"We need actual hard commitments from all countries if this going to be a success.

"This is an important moment to use this gathering of world leaders as we come to the final days before COP to look them in the eye and make sure we are getting the level of action that is required to keep 1.5 alive."