Energy & Environment

British PM Johnson says COP26 deal ‘game-changing’ but ‘tinged with disappointment’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced some dismay over the result of the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow despite what he called a “game-changing” international pact reached at the summit.

“My delight at this progress is tinged with disappointment,” Johnson said after his government hosted the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, according to Politico.

“Those for whom climate change is already a matter of life and death, who can only stand by as their islands are submerged, their farmlands turn to desert, their homes battered by storms — they demanded a high level of ambition for this summit,” the prime minister added.

“While many of us were willing to go there, that wasn’t true of everybody. Sadly that’s the nature of diplomacy.”

The two-week global COP26 conference began on Oct. 31 in Scotland. On Saturday, the participating countries reached an agreement to strengthen their 2030 climate goals before the end of next year. 

The agreement marks the first time that coal and fossil fuels were explicitly mentioned, though the language surrounding these issues was softened at the last minute as a result of objections from India and Iran.

Specifically, India proposed changing language that called for phasing out coal to phasing it down, which was the verbiage that was ultimately used.  

“Whether the language is phase down or phase out doesn’t seem to me, as a speaker of English, to make that much of a difference — the direction of travel is pretty much the same,” Johnson said of the wording, per Bloomberg

The pact also said “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies would be eliminated. Though the agreement previously called for the elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies, that changed on Friday.

“We can lobby, we can cajole, we can encourage, but we cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do,” Johnson added of the outcome, according to Bloomberg. 

The pact also says global carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 45 percent of where they stood in 2010, while wealthier countries pledged to double their financial assistance to developing countries suffering from climate-related issues.

At the start of the climate summit, Johnson had declared that the world was “one minute to midnight” on climate change and global warming and called the conference a “critical” moment. 

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