‘We are digging our own graves’: what was said at opening of climate summit COP26

Monday, 1st November 2021, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 1st November 2021, 1:59 pm

COP26 is underway in Glasgow with Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning world leaders that the “doomsday device” of climate change is ticking.

Mr Johnson, Prince Charles, Sir David Attenborough and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the conference with speeches.

US President Joe Biden, India’s Narendra Modi and German chancellor Angela Merkel were among the world leaders who have attended the event. 

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However, there are notable absentees including China's President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. China alone emitted 27% of the world's greenhouse gases in 2019.

Here we take a look at what the keynote speakers at the opening of COP26 said.

Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister warned world leaders that the longer they fail to tackle climate change, the higher the cost when they are forced “by catastrophe” to act.

He said: “The tragedy is this is not a movie and the doomsday device is real.

“The clock is ticking to the furious rhythm of hundreds of billions of pistons and furnaces and engines with which we are pumping carbon into the air faster and faster… and quilting the earth in an invisible and suffocating blanket of CO2, raising the temperature of the planet with a speed and abruptness that is entirely man made.”

“The longer we fail to act and the worse it gets and the higher the price when we are forced by catastrophe to act,” he added.

Prince Charles

The Prince of Wales told world leaders at the COP26 climate summit that the “eyes and hopes of the world” are on them to act fast because “time has quite literally run out”.

He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how devastating a global cross-border threat can be.

“Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different – in fact, they pose an even greater existential threat, to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing.”

Sir David Attenborough

Humanity is “already in trouble” from climate change, Sir David Attenborough has told world leaders.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of Cop26 in Glasgow, the climate campaigner charted carbon emissions throughout human history, which has peaked at 414 parts per million.

“Our burning of fossil fuels, our destruction of nature, our approach to industry, construction and learning, our releasing carbon into the atmosphere – we are already in trouble,” he said.

“The stability that we all depend on is breaking.

“This story is one of inequality as well as instability.

“Today those who have done the least to cause this problem are being the hardest hit – ultimately all of us will feel the impacts, some of which are now unavoidable.”

What will happen if temperatures rise (NationalWorld)

Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Cop26 summit the world’s “addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink”.

He told the opening plenary of the conference in Glasgow: “We face a stark choice: either we stop it — or it stops us.

“It’s time to say: enough. Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet.

“Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”

A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com