UK PM 'cautiously optimistic' about COP climate deal

·2-min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said humanity was losing 5-1 in the fight against climate change, and is pushing for a deal to secure commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees (AFP/Jeff J Mitchell)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said humanity was starting to even the score against climate change after a two-day COP26 summit, but warned there was a "very long way to go".

Johnson said he was "cautiously optimistic" after the summit in Glasgow adopted new promises on deforestation, methane emissions and cash for poorer countries to avert the worst of global warming.

He came to Scotland from a G20 meeting in Rome, and en route to Italy had told reporters that if fighting climate change was a game of football, humanity was losing 5-1.

"And I think what you can say today... is that we've pulled back a goal or perhaps even two, and I think we're going to be able to take this thing to extra time," Johnson told a news conference.

But as the leaders left their negotiators to thrash out the painstaking detail of a climate accord over the next two weeks, he added: "There is still a very long way to go."

Johnson noted that Japan had pledged another $10 billion over the next five years towards a much-delayed fund of $100 billion set up by richer nations to fund climate mitigation in poorer ones.

In Glasgow, the UN gathering's headline ambition is to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, down from the 2.0 degree target hatched at Paris in 2015.

The difference between the two numbers was "literally a matter of life and death" for smaller island states, the prime minister stressed.

Switching from football to thriller movies, Johnson added: "The clock on the doomsday clock... is still ticking."

"But we've got a bomb disposal team on site, and they're starting to snip the wires -- I hope some of the right wires."

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