UK 'faces uphill struggle' to get wealthy nations to tackle climate change


The Prime Minister believes there was just a six out of ten chance of success in reaching the landmark goal ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November

Boris Johnson with Joe Biden at the G7 summit in June
Boris Johnson with Joe Biden at the G7 summit in June

Boris Johnson has admitted he faces an uphill struggle to persuade wealthy nations to stick to their $100bn pledge to help poorer countries tackle climate change.

The Prime Minister warned there was just a six out of ten chance of success in reaching the landmark goal ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November.

As he arrived in New York for the UN General Assembly, he said it would be “a stretch” to persuade world leaders to live up to their commitments this week.

It came as Mr Johnson admitted that he had previously had his own doubts about the dangers of global warming – but that he had since changed his mind.

The PM has written columns over the years in which he has suggested that climate change was not a real threat.








The PM has arrived in New York for the UN General Assembly
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AFP via Getty Images)



But now he is staking his reputation on delivering key climate commitments at COP26 despite fears in Downing Street fears that global efforts will fall short.

On the plane to New York on Sunday night he was asked whether he would be disappointed if he failed to persuade wealthy nations to give more cash this week.

“I think getting it all this week is going to be a stretch,” he admitted.

“I think getting it all done by COP – six out of ten. It’s going to be tough.

“But people need to understand that this is crucial for the world.”

The PM will kick off his US trip on Monday with a round table on climate change followed by face-to-face meetings with world leaders.








The trip will kick off with a round-table discussion on Monday
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He believes that Britain – among the earliest nations to pump out fossil fuels during industrial revolution – now has a responsibility to help poorer nations decarbonise their economies.

“They need our support… if they’re going to make the transition in the way that they must,” he said.

“The developing world looks to us – we began fossil fuel emissions, it was our country that had the first industrial revolution – and they look to us to help them move beyond hydrocarbon technology.”

He claimed the UK was now steaming ahead on tackling climate change and was the only country that got “anything like the faintest batsqueak of approval” from experts.

Mr Johnson told reporters the UK was “at one” with the Biden administration in the fight against “catastrophic” climate change.

But he will use his visit to the White House on Tuesday to urge President Joe Biden to stump up more cash.








He told reporters the UK was ‘at one’ with the US
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Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock)



“Some countries are really stepping up to the plate, others, some G20 countries, need to do much more,” he said.

“We’re confident that technological progress is the answer, but other countries need to step up to the plate. Cash is a key part of it.”

Ahead of the Paris climate agreement in 2015, richer nations promised $100bn a year to help developing countries but have failed to hit targets, raising just $80bn last year.

The PM will also meet Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro, a climate denier who has permitted widespread burning of the Amazon rainforest, and urge him to halt the destruction.

“Yes. We want to stop and reverse the global loss of biodiversity, including in the rainforest,” he said.

“I believe it is in the long-term economic interest of all rainforest countries to do that.








Mr Johnson is staking his reputation on delivering key climate commitment
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Image:

AFP/Getty Images)



“We want to plant gazillions of trees, hundreds of millions of hectares. We want a global process of reforestation.

“I think it is in the long-term interests of Brazil and the people of Brazil to recognise the spectacular natural endowment they have and to conserve it.”

In a rare admission that he had his own struggles with the reality of climate change in the past, Mr Johnson said: “If you were to excavate some of my articles from 20 years ago you might find comments I made… about climate change that weren’t entirely supportive of the current struggle.

“But the facts change and people change their minds and change their views and that’s very important too.”

Mr Johnson denied he had made it harder to get China on board on climate plans by striking a defence pact – known as AUKUS – with the US and Australia that Beijing regarded as hostile.



“AUKUS shouldn’t be construed as being remotely adversarial to anybody,” he insisted.

“It’s about sharing tech, it’s about working together with countries that share values.”

In an olive branch to the Chinese, one of the world’s biggest polluters, he said they had “actually stepped up” on reducing emissions.

“They’ve gone a long way already and I congratulate President Xi on his vision,” he added.

“I think China is massively important on this but it shows real signs of making progress.”

President Xi has not yet said whether he will attend the COP26 summit.


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