Boris Johnson has said he is “prudently optimistic” about an agreement at Cop26 to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as he urged China to commit to reducing emissions by 2025.
The prime minister had previously said that if the climate emergency were a football match, the world would lose a 5-1, but on Monday he said the score was now more like a 5-2 or 5-3.
He claimed there had been a turnaround since the G20 leaders’ summit over the weekend, arguing that Brazil’s commitment to halting deforestation, India’s promise to decarbonise power by 2030 and the promised extra money for Japan they were good signs.
However, he said there was still “a long way to go” before reaching an agreement to keep the 1.5C alive. Experts have said that 28 gigaton emissions reductions by 2030 are needed to achieve this goal, but promises so far do not come close to that amount.
Johnson said talks with China, the world’s largest issuer, were now focused on trying to persuade its negotiators that they would advance their promise that their emissions would peak in 2030 in five years.
“I bet we need more progress from China … and from everyone who is here at this meeting,” he said at a press conference in Glasgow. “The question is how soon . That is the problem. There is a world of difference between the peak in 2030 … and the peak in 2025. This is where we keep up the pressure. “
Johnson said another area of pressure was calling on developed countries to contribute more to climate finance for developing countries, saying “they will have to do more.” UK government sources have acknowledged that this is the most difficult area of negotiation and where Cop is likely to fall short.
The prime minister said countries’ commitments would be “100% useless if promises are not fulfilled.” Asked about voters ’concern about the cost of net zero, Johnson said people should realize that not tackling the climate crisis would be an“ economic catastrophe ”.
“I think there is great wisdom in the British people and I think they can see that this is a problem that needs to be fixed and they may not listen to me, but they certainly listen to Sir David Attenborough and see what is really going on. around the world, ”he said.
“They look at the fires, they look at the floods and the hurricanes and the increased incidence of all three, a much bigger incidence, and they think something is going on here.”
“They’re not stupid and they see this as something that needs to be addressed,” he added, while ruling out a referendum on the zero-zero push.
Johnson’s behavior was more optimistic than at the G20 summit, when he warned of a serious risk of failure in Glasgow. His official spokesman rejected the idea that the prime minister had deliberately lowered expectations to later declare his negotiations with other world leaders in Glasgow a success.
Asked if the sadness of Johnson’s weekend had been managing expectations,
the spokesman said: “The prime minister felt very much in the G20 that limited progress had been made, but by no means was the significant impetus needed. What we have seen so far are some of the first signs that we are starting to move forward. Again, we are not pleased. This is not an agreement made in any way. There is a lot of work to be done. “
Johnson has not yet made a decision on whether he will return at the end of Cop26 and could instead make a statement from Downing Street on what is agreed.
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