Boris Johnson has warned tonight that society could fall like the Roman Empire at “extraordinary speed” if the climate change crisis is not resolved.
The PM said “humanity as a whole is down about 5-1 at halftime” as he prepared to face world leaders at the G20 in Rome and COP26.
And he revealed that he called on Chinese President Xi to go further in his goals during a lengthy phone call.
Mr Johnson also admitted he was on a ‘road to Damascus’ after his past skepticism about climate change – and spoke of when he changed his mind, only after entering government.
Speaking to reporters on a flight to the G20 in Rome, the Prime Minister said the Roman relics “are a fantastic reminder, one more memory, for us today, of a very, very important fact which is sometimes challenged by what they call a weak view of history.
“And it is that humanity, civilization, society, can go backwards as well as forward.
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âAnd when things start to go wrong, they can go wrong at an extraordinary rate.
“And you saw that with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and I’m afraid to say it’s true today, unless we take that right in the fight against climate change.” , we could see our civilization, our world, also recede.
âAnd we could devote future generations to a much less pleasant life than ours.
âWe could entrust our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren to a life where there are not only huge movements of populations, huge migrations, but also food shortages, food shortages. water, conflict, caused by climate change.
“There is absolutely no doubt that this is a reality that we have to face.”
He added, âI would say humanity as a whole is about 5-1 at halftime.
âWe have a long way to go, but we can do it. We have the capacity to come back, but it’s going to take a lot of effort.
He added: “Team World faces a very formidable adversary in the area of ââclimate change.”
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Mr Johnson to demand “concrete action on coal, cars, money and trees” from leaders of the world’s richest countries, including the US president Joe biden, this weekend in preparation for Monday’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.
But rich countries have already failed in the COP’s pledge to give the poorest countries $ 100 billion a year by 2020, with suggestions that it won’t be achieved until 2023.
And they could soon fail in their attempt to “keep 1.5 Â° C alive” – ââlimiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius. A UN report suggests it will reach 2.7 Â° C by 2100.
To meet the 1.5 Â° C target, the world must reduce 28 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030 and implement new âNationally Determined Contributionsâ (NDCs).
But China submitted new NDCs on Thursday that failed to increase its existing targets – a move called “disappointing” by experts.
Boris Johnson had an “in-depth” call with President Xi today.
No10 said the prime minister urged countries to “step up their ambition on climate change at COP26 and take concrete action to reduce emissions.”
Mr Johnson said he pushed President Xi to go further.
He told reporters, âI had a good and long conversation with President Xi today and reiterated my thanks for what China has already said about overseas coal, which is good.
“And then I made a few other points – first about when the peak was, and when they’re going to get there
âThey said before 2030, so I pushed on this a bit: 25 would be better than 2030.
“But I wouldn’t say he’s committed to this.”
Speaking of his “road to Damascus” after a career as a journalist in which he regularly questioned climate science, Mr Johnson said he was briefed by government scientists at the start of his stay at the No10.
He said, âI had them run through it all, and if you look at the almost vertical upward fold in the temperature graph, anthropogenic climate change, it’s very hard to dispute. It was a very important moment for me. “
When asked if he is eating less meat to limit his environmental footprint, Mr Johnson replied, “I eat a little less of everything, which can be a green thing to do.”
Speaking about the Roman Empire, he added, âWhat I mean is things can go backwards and they can go backward at a really terrifying speed, so we have to get it right.
“But the difference I think between now and the fifth century ID is that we have the technology, the only interesting thing about the Roman Empire, they didn’t develop the high tech like we have. made today In fact, they have made very little technological advancement over a long period of time.
âHow different from humanity today – we are making incredible advancements in our technology, a very, very fast solution that we are offering to tackle climate change.
“And you see in the promises made by countries around the world to go beyond coal, to install electric vehicles, to use new, clean green energy to tackle the problems of climate change.”