PM: World has 'pulled back a goal' in fight against climate change but there's more to do

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports on the events of the second day of the COP26 climate conference

Boris Johnson has said he's "cautiously optimistic" about Earth's chances in the battle against climate change, claiming humanity has pulled one back against global warming at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The prime minister accepted there is "a lot more to do" at the climate change conference, but said world leaders had made great progress by agreeing measures to reverse deforestation in 85% of the world's forests by 2030 and cut methane emissions by 30% on the same timescale.

Mr Johnson likened the battle against global warming to a football match, in which humanity was, before COP26, being beaten 5-1.

But the PM said "we've pulled back a goal, or perhaps even two, and I think we are going to be able to take this thing to extra-time, because there's no doubt that some progress has been made".

He added: "The clock on the doomsday clock I was talking about 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."

The COP26 summit was organised so countries around the world could agree a solution to climate change - if they fail "it will be an economic catastrophe", Mr Johnson warned.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

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Critics of the conference have questions how it can achieve anything tangible without the leader of the world's biggest polluter - President Xi Jinping of China - being present at the table.

The PM said "that doesn't mean the Chinese are not engaging" and that "we're seeing some signs of progress", but he added more needed to be done.

Mr Johnson said: "I think that we need China to make commitments, China has already made a substantial commitment in the sense that they've moved to net zero by the middle of the century, 2060 or before, as Xi Jinping says."

He added: "China has fantastic power to make change in the way it runs its economy, they've committed to no new financing of overseas coal, that's a big change already, you're starting to see the impact of that Chinese decision to stop financing coal overseas in the whole Asia Pacific region already."