Summit on knife edge

PM says COP26 deal ‘hangs in balance’ as Thunberg arrives

Boris Johnson in Italy

The Prime Minister in Italy for the G20 meeting

Boris Johnson says the chances of success at the COP26 summit hang in the balance but warned that future generations faced food shortages and mass migration unless there was action on climate change.

Mr Johnson will head to Glasgow on Sunday after attending a G20 meeting in Rome where he was reminded that he recently said the chances of the summit producing the necessary action were about six out of ten.

“I’d say they’re about the same,” he said. “I think that everybody needs to focus.

“What the UK has been trying to do is take the abstract concepts of net zero that we talked about in Paris six years ago, and to turn them into hard, sharp deliverables in terms of reducing coal use, reducing the use of internal combustion engines, planting millions of trees and getting the cash that the world needs to finance green technology.”

He warned that failure would produce habitat loss, contests for water, for food, huge movements of peoples. Those are things that are going to be politically very, very difficult to control.

“The question everyone is asking is whether we seize this moment or let it slip away. I hope world leaders will hear them and come to Glasgow ready to answer them with decisive action.

Mr Johnson said: “Cop26 will be the world’s moment of truth.

“Together, we can mark the beginning of the end of climate change – and end the uncertainty once and for all.”

About 120 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will attend the 12-day summit at the Scottish Events Campus.

Mr Johnson will host an opening ceremony attended by dignitaries including the Prince of Wales and will give a speech on Monday.

His warnings to fellow leaders came as he faces criticism that he continues to use polluting private jets to travel to engagements.

Mr Johnson has taken more than 20 flights on private aircraft since becoming Prime Minister, pumping 52 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, according to an investigation by the Sunday Mirror.

The paper says Mr Johnson has spent at least £216,000 on private flights since becoming Prime Minister and follows research calling on politicians to “lead by example” by reducing their air travel, being pulled from the government’s website.

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