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Boris Johnson says one minute to midnight amid climate crisis


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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres prepare to receive attendees during day two of COP26 at SECC on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

GLASGOW, Scotland — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday will warn world leaders at the COP26 climate summit that it is now “one minute to midnight” in the race to prevent global heating from surpassing a critical threshold.

The U.K. is hosting U.N.-brokered climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland in what has been described as humanity’s last and best chance to secure a livable future. It is for this reason that the long-awaited summit is seen as one of the important diplomatic meetings in history.

“Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change,” Johnson is expected to say at Monday’s World Leaders Summit Opening Ceremony. “It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now.”

The COP26 summit, which formally opened on Sunday and runs through to Nov. 12, comes six years after the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by nearly 200 countries to limit rising global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to cap heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The latter threshold is a crucial global target because beyond this level, so-called tipping points become more likely. Tipping points refer to an irreversible change in the climate system, locking in further global heating.

To have any chance of capping global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord, the world needs to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions in the next 8 years and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The U.N. has warned the world is currently on a “catastrophic pathway” to 2.7 degrees Celsius of heating by the end of the century.

‘Coal, cars, cash and trees’

The U.K. prime minister on Monday will also echo his call for world leaders to move from talk and debate “to concerted, real-world action on coal, cars, cash and trees.”

Johnson is expected to say: “We need to get real about climate change and the world needs to know when that’s going to happen.”

The U.K. prime minister is scheduled to deliver these comments from around midday local time, with a flurry of world leaders set to deliver national statements shortly thereafter.

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