Boris Johnson has warned that richer countries’ record on climate change “is not exactly stellar” and they had already “flunked” parts of the Paris Agreement, but he plans to hop on a private jet to get back from the summit.
The UK Prime Minister said that words without action “are absolutely pointless” as he hosted a discussion with world leaders: including US president, Jo Biden, German chancellor, Angela Merkel and Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.
Mr Johnson said he would be “backing the most vulnerable” countries that are facing the “cataclysmic” consequences of climate change as he pledged to call and hassle world leaders that he feels were backing out of environmental commitments.
Addressing the world leaders in his opening remarks, Mr Johnson said: “This is about all of us taking the concrete steps that will actually help the countries around the world that need it most.
“When it comes to tackling climate change, words, blah, blah, blah, without action, without deeds, are absolutely pointless and our record on deeds so far is not exactly stellar.”
Citing a speech by the Barbadian prime minister, Mia Mottley, who said that a Paris summit pledge by richer nations to be raising $100 billion of private finance each year, Mr Johnson added: “That deadline has come and gone and it will be 2023 before we hit that target, so that was one of our very first post-Paris tests and we flunked it.
“Of course, getting there eventually is better than not getting there at all but if we are late again with the rest of the 1.5 degree challenge, then we will be far too late
Downing Street has defended Boris Johnson’s decision to return from the Cop26 climate change summit by plane.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed Mr Johnson will fly back to London from Glasgow when the leaders’ conference section of the summit ends this week.
Pressed on why the Prime Minister could not go by train for a journey within the UK, the spokesman said it was important he was able to travel round the country while facing “significant time constraints”.
He said the private charter jet he is using for the flight uses a special mix of “sustainable” aviation fuel and is one of the most carbon-efficient aircraft of its size, while the emissions will also be offset.
It produces less than half the emissions produced by the RAF Voyager which the Prime Minister sometimes uses for foreign travel.
“Our approach to tackling climate change is to use technology so that we do not have to change how we use modes of transport, rather we use technology on things like electric vehicles so that we can still get to net zero,” the spokesman said.
“That has very much been at the core of our approach.”
“It is important that the Prime Minister is able to move round the country and obviously we face significant time constraints.
“The plane the Prime Minister used on his travels is one of the most carbon-efficient planes of its size in the world. It produces 50% less CO2 emissions than, for example, the larger, Voyager plane.
“It uses a specific type of fuel that is a blend of 35% sustainable aviation fuel and 65% normal fuel, which is the maximum amount allowed.”
Mr Johnson used the aircraft, operated by Titan Airways, to fly out to the G20 summit in Rome on Friday and then carried on to Glasgow on Sunday.
The disclosure came after Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced accusations of hypocrisy when he announced a cut in air passenger duty on short-haul flights and a further freezing of fuel duty in his Budget last week, just days before the opening of Cop26.