Boris Johnson – 2021 Speech at Leaders Summit on Climate

The speech made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, on 22 April 2021.

I’d like to begin by thanking President Biden very much for bringing us together today in the way that he has and for setting out the problem in the eloquent way that he did at the beginning, and of course for returning the United States to the front rank of the fight against climate change.

I’m really thrilled by the game-changing announcement that Joe Biden has just made. And I’m proud that the UK is doing the same.

We were first country to pass legislation for net zero. We have the biggest offshore wind capacity of any country in the world, the Saudi Arabia of wind as I never tire of saying. We’re halfway to net zero.

We have carbon emissions lower than at any point since the 19th century, we’re ending support for fossil fuels overseas and doubling our international climate finance.

We’re actually speeding up because we see the obligations for developed countries to do more, we’re legislating to deliver 78% of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035.

As host of COP26, we want to see similar ambitions around the world and we’re working with everybody, from the smallest nations to the biggest emitters to secure commitments that will keep change to within 1.5 degrees.

And I think we can do it. And to do it we need the scientists and all of our countries to work together to produce the technological solutions that humanity is going to need. Whether it’s carbon capture and storage or solving the problems of cheap hydrogen delivery or getting to jet zero flying, getting to net zero flying, making sure that we can roll out EVs properly, making sure that our homes stop emitting such prodigious quantities of CO2, moving to sustainable domestic living.

We can do this together across the world. It’s going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the $100 billion commitment that they already made in 2009 and I stress how important that is.

Plus, I think what President Xi had to say about the harmony with nature was absolutely vital. If we’re going to tackle climate change sustainably, we have to deal with the disaster of habitat loss and species loss across our planet and we want to see even more examples of government and private industry working hand in hand as with the newly launched LEAF Coalition to reduce deforestation and the multi-trillion dollar Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.

To do these things we’ve got to be constantly original and optimistic about new technology and new solutions whether that’s crops that are super-resistant to drought or more accurate weather forecasts like those we hope to see from the UK’s new Met Office 1.2bn supercomputer that we’re investing in.

I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy. There is obviously going to be a political challenge. It’s important to go back to the original words of President Biden, it’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive politically correct green act of ‘bunny hugging’ or however you want to put it. Nothing wrong with ‘bunny hugging’ but you know what I’m driving at.

This is about growth and jobs and the President was absolutely right to stress that. I want to leave you with the thought that we can build back better from this pandemic by building back greener.

Don’t forget that the UK has been able to cut our own CO2 emissions by about 42% on 1990 levels and we’ve seen our economy grow by 73%, you can do both at once. Cake have eat is my message to you.

Let’s work together on this. Let’s go to Kunming in October and Glasgow in November armed with ambitious targets and the plans required to reach them.

And let’s use this extraordinary moment and the incredible technology that we’re working on to make this decade the moment of decisive change in the fight against climate change and let’s do it together.