Boris Johnson says climate change is 'far more destructive' than Covid

Boris Johnson claims climate change is ‘far more destructive’ than Covid as he opens virtual international conference ‘toxic teacosy of greenhouse gasses’

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson co-hosted virtual climate change conference today
  • Gave stark warning that climate change is ‘far more destructive’ than Covid-19
  • Claimed green recovery from the pandemic could have a range of benefits
  • Stated would create jobs, cut dependency on fossil fuels and change farming 

Boris Johnson warned climate change is ‘far more destructive’ than coronavirus as he opened the online United Change conference.  

Co-hosting the virtual summit today, the Prime Minister suggested a green recovery from Covid-19 pandemic could create thousands of jobs and radically cut the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. 

He noted it could also change farming practices and reverse processes ‘by which for centuries humanity has been quilting our planet in a toxic teacosy of greenhouse gases’.

The Prime Minister’s words come as it was announced today another 519 people have died from Covid-19 as a further 21,502 tested positive for the virus.

It means the number of Britons lost to the disease has hit 64,025, with overall infections since March at 1,830,957.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 to which is co-hosted by the UN, UK and France

Johnson told the summit: ‘My message to you all is that together we can use scientific advances to protect our entire planet, our biosphere against a challenge far worse, far more destructive than coronavirus,’   

During the virtual event today, countries were urged to ‘stop the assault’ on the planet and increase their ambition on cutting the greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres warned leaders the world was heading for a ‘catastrophic’ 3C of warming, as he urged them to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until they had become carbon neutral.

They also needed to show action now, with ambitious targets to cut emissions up to 2030, he told a UN climate ambition summit taking place online.

Dozens of world leaders, including Chinese president Xi Jinping, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Yoshihide Suga, prime minister of Japan, are speaking at the event.

So too are European leaders, the Pope, the US governors of Massachusetts and Michigan, finance and business bosses and heads of UN climate, environment and development bodies.

French President Emmanuel Macron, flanked by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and President of the French Constitutional Council Laurent Fabius, speaks during the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 video conference

During the virtual event, countries were urged to ‘stop the assault’ on the planet

But countries including Brazil and Australia did not secure a speaking slot, amid criticism their plans on emissions are far too weak to protect the climate.

The summit, co-hosted by the UN, UK and France, marks five years since the Paris Agreement – the world’s first comprehensive treaty on tackling climate change – was secured in the French capital.

The Paris Agreement commits countries to take action to limit temperature rises to ‘well below’ 3.6F above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to keep them to 2.7F.

Higher temperature rises will lead to increasingly severe impacts including rising seas, more extreme storms, floods, droughts and wildfires, lower crop yields, people displaced from their homes and loss of wildlife.

But countries’ plans for cutting emissions up to 2030, which they have to submit as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, leave the world on track for more than 3C (5.4F) of warming.

Speaking at the summit, Johnson noted  a green recovery from the pandemic could also change farming practices and reverse processes ‘by which for centuries humanity has been quilting our planet in a toxic teacosy of greenhouse gases’.

The summit marks five years since the Paris Agreement – the world’s first comprehensive treaty on tackling climate change – was secured in the French capital. Pictured: President Macron speaks during the virtual summit today

Countries were due to submit new plans this year ahead of key UN Cop26 talks due to be held in Glasgow, but with the pandemic delaying that until next November, the online summit is being held to drive momentum on the crisis.

The UK, submitting its first national plan outside of the EU, has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% on 1990 levels by 2030, on the way to reducing pollution to ‘net zero’ by mid-century.

The Prime Minister has also announced the UK will end direct taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects abroad as it seeks to show leadership on climate change ahead of hosting the Cop26 talks.

Scientists warn the world must cut carbon dioxide to net zero – with emissions reduced as close to zero as possible and any remaining pollution offset by measures to store carbon such as planting trees – by 2050 to meet the 1.5C goal.

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