Cop26: Taoiseach calls for climate crisis action to match rhetoric as leaders at summit urged to act

Boris Johnson will tell talks that humanity has 'long since run down the clock on climate change'

World leaders are facing calls for urgent action to limit dangerous temperature rises as they gather for a summit at the start of a crunch UN climate conference.

British prime minister Boris Johnson, who will welcome leaders to Glasgow for the Cop26 talks, will tell them that humanity has "long since run down the clock on climate change" and must act now to tackle the crisis.

The issue for Cop26 on climate change is “matching the rhetoric with action”, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin has arrived at summit and said earlier that Ireland had a "strong position" and there had to be action over the next number of years.


“There’s no alternative facing the world but to deal very quickly and urgently with the climate change challenge,” he said.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that Ireland would be strengthening the contribution it makes to climate financing as part of an EU "global union" to reduce carbon emissions. He said he is not at Cop26 as he is focused on bringing "budgetary legislation" of the Climate Action Plan into the Dáil.

Under pressure

About 120 heads of state and government are set to attend the world leaders’ summit at the start of the Cop26 talks, where countries are under pressure to increase action in the next decade to tackle dangerous warming.

US president Joe Biden, European leaders and India's Narendra Modi are among those attending the talks, although the heads of key major economies including China's Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin will not be there.

Turkey's president Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled plans to attend the climate conference after Britain failed to meet Ankara's demands on security arrangements, two Turkish officials told Reuters on Monday.

Mr Erdogan returned to Turkey from a G20 summit in Rome instead of travelling to the climate summit in Glasgow, the state-owned Anadolu agency said.

The conference in Glasgow is seen as the moment when countries must deliver on pledges made in the accord agreed in Paris six years ago, to limit temperature rises to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to curb warming to 1.5 degrees — beyond which the worst impacts will be felt.

There is also pressure on developed countries to deliver a long-promised $100 billion a year in climate finance for poorer countries least responsible for and most vulnerable to climate change, and address loss and damage caused by the impacts of global warming.

And there will be efforts to drive action by countries, regions, and businesses to curb emissions in sectors such as power with efforts to phase out coal, as well as finalise parts of the Paris climate accord agreed in 2015 to make it effective and operational.

At the opening ceremony of the world leaders’ summit on Monday, Mr Johnson will say: “Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change.

“It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now.

“If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”

The opening ceremony will also hear from naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough, who is the Cop26 people's advocate, and UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

World leaders will then set out the national action they are taking to tackle the climate crisis, while there will also be announcements on areas such as curbing deforestation and cutting methane during the two-day leaders’ summit at the beginning of the two weeks of talks.

The start of Cop26 comes off the back of the G20 summit in Rome, where the leaders of the major economies — responsible for 80 per cent of the world’s emissions — agreed to reach carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century”.

Politicians in attendance in Italy also pledged to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad, but did not commit to phasing out domestic coal consumption.

Following the G20 meeting, Mr Johnson warned that countries had made some progress but the outcome of the talks in Glasgow intended to deliver on the commitments in the Paris climate agreement remained “in the balance”.

“If Glasgow fails, than the whole thing fails. The Paris agreement will have crumpled at the first reckoning,” he warned.

Mr Johnson said that they had "inched forward" in the Italian capital but it was "nip and tuck, touch and go" whether they would make further progress over the next two weeks in Scotland. – Agencies