Boris Johnson urges nations to deliver on $100bn climate aid pledge

British PM tells UN climate roundtable that history will judge leaders’ response to crisis

British prime minister Boris Johnson meets with South Korea president Moon Jae-in  during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

British prime minister Boris Johnson meets with South Korea president Moon Jae-in during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

 

Boris Johnson has said “history will judge” the world’s richest nations if they failed to deliver on their pledge for $100 billion in annual climate aid ahead of the UN climate summit conference in November being hosted by the UK.

The world’s largest economies have already missed a target to raise $100 billion by 2020 and the British prime minister rated their chances of securing the money before November at “six out of 10”, as he arrived in New York to galvanise countries into action.

The shortfall in funding sets the scene for difficult discussions at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow starting on November 1st, where raising climate finance is among the top items on the agenda.

Addressing a UN climate roundtable in New York on Monday, Mr Johnson reminded world leaders that the conference would be staged in the “full glare of the global spotlight”.

“When the summit ends, when most of the world has committed to decisive, game-changing action, it will be clear to all which of us has lacked the courage to step up,” he said.

“The world will see, and your people will remember, and history will judge. So you can look away, you can do the minimum, you can hope that if you feed the crocodile enough it will devour you last. Or you can show leadership.”

Speaking ahead of his arrival in the US, Johnson had warned that raising the full $100 billion target this week would be “a stretch”.

“I think getting it all done by COP – six out of 10. It’s going to be tough,” he told reporters on the flight to New York.

Carbon emissions

Mr Johnson said that, while some countries were delivering on their climate responsibilities, others, including members of the G20, “need to do much more”.

He said: “People need to understand that this is crucial for the world. By the end of October countries are going to have to come up with bigger NDCs [nationally determined contributions] and show what they’re going to do to cut CO2 emissions, not just by 2050 but by 2030.

Mr Johnson insisted the UK was in the “lead”, making huge efforts to reduce carbon emissions and was the first country to commit to net zero by 2050 in law. However, a range of UK companies wrote to the prime minister this week to urge him to make further progress in outlining detailed policies ahead of November’s summit.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has attempted to persuade China’s president Xi Jinping to back ambitious plans to tackle climate change at the Glasgow meeting.

Alok Sharma, UK president of the summit, admitted on Sunday that Mr Xi’s attendance was “not yet confirmed”.

The Chinese leader has not travelled outside his country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2019, and participated only virtually in international leader meetings.

Mr Johnson said China had “stepped up” and praised Mr Xi on his “vision”, noting that Beijing was on a trajectory to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.

“That is extraordinary progress and Alok has had some great conversations already with his Chinese counterparts about the things they want to do.”

“I think China is massively important on this but it shows real signs of making progress,” he said. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021