Largest economies doing ‘nowhere near enough' to tackle climate change, Boris Johnson warns

The world’s largest economies are doing “nowhere near enough” to tackle climate change and help the poorest countries escape destruction, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the UN.

Ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the UK is pushing large middle-income countries such as Brazil, China, Mexico and Turkey to set tougher targets for reducing their climate emissions and commit new funding for the developing world.

Joe Biden is expected to increase the amount of money the US will spend on the green transition, a move which Western powers hope will set an example to less prosperous members of the G20.

Other than the richest countries which make up the G7, Argentina is seen as the only member to have lived up to its climate responsibilities.

Speaking at a “climate roundtable” in New York, the Prime Minister said: “Everyone nods and we all agree that ‘something must be done’. Yet, I confess I’m increasingly frustrated that the ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough.

“It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences. And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen – it remains vast.”

Looking forward to COP26, Mr Johnson said: “When the summit ends, when most of the world has committed to decisive, game-changing action, it will be clear to all which of us has lacked the courage to step up.

“The world will see, and your people will remember, and history will judge. So you can look away, you can do the minimum, you can hope that if you feed the crocodile enough it will devour you last. Or you can show leadership.”

Alok Sharma, the minister who is chairing the Glasgow summit, described this week’s UN gathering as “one of the stepping stones on the way to COP itself” and singled out G20 governments as the main culprits.

He emphasised the need to back up emissions targets with funding, telling reporters: “We can have a plan, but without the cash the plan doesn’t work.”

© Provided by The i Alok Sharma, is president of this year’s UN COP26 (Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Speaking as he flew into New York over the weekend, the Prime Minister said the chances of hitting a target of $100bn in climate funding were only “six out of 10”, but Mr Sharma suggested that it could be more likely following hints that Mr Biden could make a major announcement on the issue at his own UN General Assembly speech on Tuesday.

John Kerry, the US President’s climate envoy, said: “I think we’re going to get it done and the US is going to play its part.”

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