British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told world leaders at the United Nations on Wednesday night that humanity must “grow up” and tackle climate change, adding that humans must stop trampling the planet like a drunkard as a teenager.
Johnson is scheduled to host a major UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in six weeks’ time. He is using a visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York to pressure governments into tougher emissions-cutting targets and more money to help poorer countries clean up their economies.
In a speech at the General Assembly on Wednesday, he said it is now or never if the world is to meet its goal of limiting Granthshala temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
“If we stay on the current track, the temperature will rise by 2.7 degrees or more by the end of the century. And it doesn’t matter what he will do with the ice floats,” Johnson said. “We will see desertification, drought, crop failure, and humanitarian mass movements on a scale not seen before. Not because of some unforeseen natural event or disaster, but because of what we are doing now.”
In his speech, Johnson likened humanity to a brash 16-year-old – “just old enough to put himself in serious trouble.”
“We’ve come to that fatal age when we know how to drive roughly and we know how to unlock the drink cabinet and engage in all sorts of activity that’s not only potentially embarrassing, but also terminal.” It is too,” he said.
“We believe that someone else will clean up the mess we made, because someone else has always done this,” he said. “We trash our habitats over and over again with the persuasive argument that we’ve gotten away with it so far, and so we’ll get away with it again.
“My friends, humanity’s adolescence is coming to an end,” Johnson said, “we must collectively come together in the age to come.”
Hopes for a successful Glasgow summit have been bolstered this week by announcements from the world’s two largest economies and the biggest carbon polluters, the United States and China. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country will no longer finance coal-fired power plants abroad, while US President Joe Biden plans to double the funding for green development to poor countries to $11.4 billion by 2024 declare.
Britain has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions to near zero by 2050, and Johnson has supported the expansion of renewable energy, saying the UK could become the “Saudi Arabia of the air”. But he is criticizing environmentalists for failing to scrap new North Sea oil drilling and a proposed new coal mine in northwest England.
Johnson also challenged the message of the Muppets character Kermit the Frog, who sang: “It ain’t easy being green.”
“That was wrong,” he said. “It’s easy being green.”
-With files from Reuters