COP26: Sir David Attenborough warns world leaders that they must act now on climate or ‘it’ll be too late’

“If we don’t act now, it will be too late. We have to do it now,” he said

Sir David Attenborough has issued a warning ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, telling world leaders that they must act now or “it’ll be too late” for the planet.

The summit in Glasgow has been billed as the last best chance to keep global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Sir David told the BBC that wealthier western countries like the UK have a “moral responsibility” to help refugees displaced by climate change.
  • “We caused it – our kind of industrialisation is one of the major factors in producing this change in climate. So we have a moral responsibility,” he said.
  • The naturalist and broadcaster added that world leaders had to act now to tackle the “devastating effects” of climate change.
  • Earlier in October, Sir David, who will be present at the summit, said the possibilities of COP26 gave him “some hope”.
  • “For the first time people around the world will hear the arguments as to what we should do, the analyses as to what the problems are and what the solutions are. Those two things bring me some hope,” he said.

What’s been said

In conversation with BBC science editor David Shukman, the naturalist and broadcaster said: “Every month that passes, it becomes more and more incontrovertible, the changes to the planet that we are responsible for that are having these devastating effects.”

He added: “If we don’t act now, it will be too late. We have to do it now.”


Boris Johnson will welcome world leaders to Glasgow for the summit which begins on Sunday after saying it was “touch and go” whether key goals would be met as the the heads of some major polluting nations are set to skip the event.

Earlier this month, the Queen acknowledged she would attend COP26 and appeared to suggest she was irritated by a lack of action in tackling the climate crisis.

It came days after her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, warned world leaders in Glasgow against “clever speak, clever words but not enough action”.

Recent analysis suggests that even with the latest pledges and targets, the earth is heading for around 2.4C of warming in the long-term.

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