COP26: Boris Johnson urges humankind to grow up and come of age at Glasgow climate change summit

Boris Johnson is urging humankind to “grow up” and “come of age” at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow this year.

The prime minister, in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday night, will call on world leaders to “recognise the scale of the challenge we face” on climate issues.

In a message for the world to “come together in a collective coming of age”, Mr Johnson will spell out a need to limit a global rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

“The world – this precious blue sphere with its eggshell crust and wisp of an atmosphere – is not some indestructible toy, some bouncy plastic romper room against which we can hurl ourselves to our heart’s content,” the prime minister will say.

“Daily, weekly, we are doing such irreversible damage that long before a million years are up, we will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable – not just for us but for many other species.

“And that is why the Glasgow COP26 summit is the turning point for humanity.”

Mr Johnson will describe humanity as “collectively a youngster” in relation to the earth’s history, telling the New York gathering: “The adolescence of humanity is coming to an end.”

And he will focus his climate change message on “coal, cars, cash and trees”, as he praises China’s President Xi Jinping for ending Beijing’s international financing of coal but also calls on the country to “go further and phase out the domestic use of coal as well”.

Yet the prime minister will deny that action on climate change is “a pretext for a wholesale assault on capitalism” and will say the lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic is that “the way to fix the problem is through science and innovation”.

“The breakthroughs and the investment that are made possible by capitalism and by free markets,” he will add.

“And it is through our Promethean faith in new green technology that we are cutting emissions in the UK.”

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Mr Johnson will tell world leaders that TV character Kermit the Frog was “wrong” when he sang “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green”, adding: “We have the technology; we have the choice before us.”

And, with little more than a month until COP26 begins, the prime minister will say: “We are awesome in our power to change things and awesome in our power to save ourselves.

“In the next 40 days we must choose what kind of awesome we are going to be.

“I hope that COP26 will be a 16th birthday for humanity in which we choose to grow up, to recognise the scale of the challenge we face, to do what posterity demands we must.

“I invite you in November to celebrate what I hope will be a coming of age and to blow out the candles of a world on fire.”

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