COP26: Boris Johnson says we are ‘5-1 down at half-time’ against climate change but we have chance to equalise

The Prime Minister said the summit in Glasgow was the “last opportunity” to prevent global temperature rises passing 1.5C

Boris Johnson has said that humanity is “5-1 down” at half-time against climate change - but COP26 gives us the opportunity to “equalise”.

The Prime Minister added that the summit in Glasgow was the “last opportunity” to prevent global temperature rises passing 1.5C.

World leaders are preparing to descend on Scotland where countries are under pressure to increase their ambition to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson said the human race had entered the last chance saloon on the environment.
  • He said the focus needed to be on securing agreements for countries to cut their carbon output and stop global warming exceeding the target amount to prevent the worst impacts.
  • The Prime Minister predicted the talks would involve a “massively complicated negotiation of trade-offs between the developing world and richer countries” which could last for “days and days” in the bid to find an agreement at the two-week conference.
  • Mr Johnson revealed he had urged China’s President Xi Jinping to move faster on reducing his country’s carbon emissions.
  • The Prime Minister said he had a lengthy telephone call with Mr Xi ahead of Cop26 – which the Chinese leader is not attending – during which he raised the issue of when China’s emissions would peak.

What’s been said

Speaking to the i newspaper, Mr Johnson said: “Cop is really the last opportunity for the planet, humanity, to come together and keep alive the hope of restricting growth in temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

“We are not going to stop climate change any time soon, and we are certainly not going to stop it at Cop26.

“The most we can hope to do, and it is going to be incredibly difficult, is to restrict the growth by the end of the century to 1.5 degrees.”

Switching to a football analogy, the Conservative Party leader said that “if this was half-time, I’d say we were about 5-1 down” in the battle against climate change.

But he stressed that we “can do it”, adding: “We have the ability to equalise, to save the position and to come back, but it’s going to take a huge amount of effort by the British Government, by all our friends and partners around the world.”


The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as “Cop26”) summit in Glasgow will be attended by world leaders, and is being billed as the last, best chance to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C to avoid the most dangerous climate change.

It was delayed from 2020 because of the pandemic, and organisers have been keen to push for an in-person event this year to allow all countries to participate effectively and secure a successful outcome to climate negotiations, while ensuring it is a Covid-safe event.

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