Speed Reads

COP26 climate summit

Boris Johnson warns of judgment from 'children not yet born' if COP26 climate action fails

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged world leaders to "get real" on the issue of global warming during his opening remarks at the U.N.-backed COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Monday, even quoting Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in his appeal.

The "long-awaited" climate talks formally opened Sunday and will run through Nov. 12, as leaders tackle "humanity's last and best chance to secure a livable future,"  per CNBC. The summit has been called "one of the important diplomatic meetings in history."

"Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change," Johnson said Monday. "It's one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now."

The prime minister noted that the climate agreements and promises made in Copenhagen 11 years ago and Paris six years ago "will be nothing but blah, blah, blah" if leaders do not act, he said, invoking Thunberg. "The anger and the impatience of the world will be uncontainable unless we make this COP26 in Glasgow the moment where we get real about climate change."

Johnson also appealed to the mortality of aging world leaders, who may not be around to experience the worst of climate change — though their posterity might.

"The children who will judge us are children not yet born," said Johnson. "We are now coming center stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity." "If we fail," he added, "they will not forgive us."

"Yes, it's going to be hard," Johnson said, rounding out his remarks. "But yes we can do it."

"Thank you very much, and good luck to all of us."