Boris Johnson will urge the leaders of the world’s largest economies to meet their commitments to reduce harmful carbon emissions ahead of the crucial climate change talks in Glasgow.
The Prime Minister attends the G20 summit in Rome while key leaders meet ahead of the Cop26 conference, which will officially open on Monday.
Downing Street said it would take a harsh message that as the countries that have contributed the most to global warming, they must now hold themselves accountable to the nations that are having the most dire consequences.
Speaking to reporters on his flight to the Italian capital, Mr Johnson said the fall of the Roman Empire showed how quickly civilizations could collapse if they did not address fundamental problems.
“When things go wrong, they can go wrong at an extraordinary rate,” he said.
“You saw the fall and fall of the Roman Empire, and I fear it is true today that our civilization, our world, could also go backwards if we don’t tackle climate change properly.
“We could give future generations a life that is far less comfortable than our own. We could hand over our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren to a life in which there is not only huge population movements and huge migrations, but also food shortages, water shortages, conflicts caused by climate change.
“There is no question that this is a reality that we must face.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman said that while more countries are now putting forward net zero emissions commitments, more needs to be done to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 ° C.
“The success of Cop26 is still pending. Too many countries are doing too little, “said the spokesman.
“As countries with the greatest historical and modern contributions to global warming, which built their economies on the back of fossil fuel burning, the G20 provides the key to global action and progress that we so desperately need to meet our commitments.
“While the G20 states are largely responsible for the problem, the poorer countries are already reaping the consequences.
“Climate-threatened countries are increasingly experiencing floods, forest fires, heat waves and the prospect that their economies will be destroyed by climate change.
“On Monday, the heads of state and government of the G20 will face the heads of state and government of these countries at Cop26 and will have to give an account of their actions.
“If we don’t act now, it will be too late.”
A number of key players, including China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, have announced that they will not participate in the G20 or Cop26, even though they are expected to send delegations.
Mr Johnson had a long phone conversation with Mr Xi before leaving London on Friday, urging the leader of the world’s largest emitter to go further in reducing emissions – although it was unclear how much influence he could make.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said it was still important to make further progress and insisted that the UK lead by example with the release of the world’s first comprehensive net zero strategy earlier this month.
If they succeed in reaching global net zero by the middle of the century, emissions would have to be halved by the end of the decade.
“Success looks like we make sure we have enough commitments to keep 1.5 alive,” the spokesman said.
“We need real hard commitments from all countries if this is going to be a success.
“This is an important moment to take advantage of this gathering of world leaders as we look them in the eyes in the last few days before cop and make sure we get the level of action needed to keep 1.5 alive.” obtain.”
Mr Johnson will also meet with US, German and French leaders in Rome to discuss efforts to revive the nuclear deal with Iran.
“The nuclear deal with Iran is the best option on the table to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
“It is extremely important that Iran return to compliance,” said the prime minister’s spokesman.
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