UK’s Johnson gives G-20 stark warning on climate change

ROME , -- Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, arrived in Italy on Friday for a Group of 20 meeting. He warned that modern civilization could soon be in ruin like ancient Rome if leaders fail to address climate change.

UK’s Johnson gives G-20 stark warning on climate change

ROME , -- Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, arrived in Italy on Friday for a Group of 20 meeting. He warned that modern civilization could soon be in ruin like ancient Rome if leaders fail to address climate change.

Johnson has one goal at the G-20 gathering. He wants to convince the leaders of the largest economies in the world to spend their money at the U.N. Climate Summit in Scotland, which starts Sunday.

Johnson will use his charm and his ebullience to get the G-20 to agree to carbon-cutting pledges and cash. The G-20 includes some of the largest carbon emitters in the world, such as India, China, and the United States.

Johnson stated to reporters on his flight to Rome that the Eternal City's ruin "are a wonderful reminder, a memo mori to us today...that humanity, civilization and society can both go backwards and forwards, and that when things go wrong, they can do so with extraordinary speed."

Hee expressed doubts about whether the COP26 summit on climate will be able to achieve its goal of obtaining enough carbon-cutting pledges to continue the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels).

Johnson will call on the G-20 leaders to take action faster, stating that the burden of combating climate change must be shared by the rich nations, who grew rich from the use fossil fuels.

He stated that "if we don't get this right about tackling climate change, then we could see our civilization go backwards" and send future generations to a less pleasant life. This would include mass migrations, water scarcity, and conflict due to climate change.

The G-20 accounts for 75% of world trade and 60% of its people. It has been accused of being too large and dispersed to take collective action. Johnson's Brexit-tinted global image may limit his arm-twisting ability.

As the European Union (EU) and ex-member Britain argue over trade rules and amid a simmering U.K.–France dispute over fishing rights on the English Channel, the G-20 is meeting. France is also upset by a U.S. - U.K.-Australia nuclear submarine agreement that saw Australia cancel a multibillion dollar contract to purchase French subs.

Johnson's hopes for a G-20 bounce to help build momentum for the 12-day COP26 conference in Glasgow are being clouded by these disputes. Johnson hopes to leave Rome with a list of global carbon-cutting promises, a plan for curbing coal use, and a promise to deliver $100 billion per year in aid to developing countries to combat the effects of climate change.

Australia and Russia are major G-20 polluters. They have not improved on their carbon-cutting promises made after the Paris conference. Neither the Chinese President Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin, the leaders of two of the largest carbon emitters in the world, have announced plans to attend the G-20 and COP26.

China has released an updated version its climate targets, promising to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 as well as to peak its emissions by 2030.

Johnson stated that he "pushed" Xi towards moving the peak to 2025 during a phone conversation on Friday.

Johnson acknowledged that Johnson would not say Johnson committed such an act.

The world is far from the Paris goal of limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels), which was considered a threshold between dangerous and manageable climate change. The Glasgow meeting will be focusing on keeping "1.5" alive. Britain has developed a strategy of "coal cars, cash, trees and fossil fuels" to eliminate them, switch to cleaner vehicles, spend money, and stop deforestation.

Johnson has to overcome many obstacles in order to win over the rest of the world. Many European leaders mistrust Britain's leader for his role in Britain leaving the EU in 2016. This was also evident during the many years of tense divorce negotiations. American President Joe Biden is also wary of Johnson's populist antics and crowd pleasing.

Johnson insists Brexit is not a U.K. retreat to the world. He has advocated his vision of a forward-looking "Global Britain," during Britain's presidency of Group of Seven rich industrialized countries this year.

He is a climate champion and has urged G-20 countries to commit to vaccine the world against coronavirus by 2022.

Johnson is a more credible and trustworthy green leader than leaders of rich countries. The U.K. promised to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2020 and published a detailed plan. It is on track to eliminate coal within a few short years, unlike Australia. Contrary to the United States, the U.K. has limited political opposition to stricter climate rules.

The U.K. announced Wednesday its annual budget but did not mention climate change. It also reduced passenger taxes for domestic flights and frozen taxes on auto fuel.

Pessimists may wonder: If G-20 cannot agree on how to combat climate change, what hope for the nearly 200 nations that will meet at COP26 in Glasgow.

Jared Finnegan is a University College London public policy expert. He sees progress in that the Conservative British government wants be seen as a leader in green policies and in how the global climate conversation has changed.

He stated, "Even the fact we're discussing net zero by 2050 -- this is something that just wasn’t on the table even five year ago."

Updated Date: 31 October 2021, 16:24

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