PM urges humankind to ‘grow up’ – and quotes Kermit the Frog – in call to arms on climate change

Politics

Boris Johnson is urging humankind to “grow up” and “come of age” at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow this year.

The prime minister, in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, called on world leaders to “recognise the scale of the challenge we face” on climate issues.

In a message for the world to “come together in a collective coming of age”, Mr Johnson spelt out a need to limit a global rise in temperatures to 1.5C.

“The world – this precious blue sphere with its eggshell crust and wisp of an atmosphere – is not some indestructible toy, some bouncy plastic romper room against which we can hurl ourselves to our heart’s content,” the prime minister said.

“Daily, weekly, we are doing such irreversible damage that long before a million years are up, we will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable – not just for us but for many other species.

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“And that is why the Glasgow COP26 summit is the turning point for humanity.”

Mr Johnson described humanity as “collectively a youngster” in relation to Earth’s history, telling the New York gathering: “The adolescence of humanity is coming to an end.”

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And he focussed his climate change message on “coal, cars, cash and trees”, as he praised China’s President Xi Jinping for ending Beijing’s international financing of coal but also called on the country to “go further and phase out the domestic use of coal as well”.

Yet the prime minister denied that action on climate change was “a pretext for a wholesale assault on capitalism” and said the lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic is that “the way to fix the problem is through science and innovation”.

“The breakthroughs and the investment that are made possible by capitalism and by free markets,” he added.

“And it is through our Promethean faith in new green technology that we are cutting emissions in the UK.”

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Kermit the Frog was wrong to suggest it’s ‘easy being green’, Boris Johnson said

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Mr Johnson told world leaders that TV character Kermit the Frog was “wrong” when he sang It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green, adding: “We have the technology; we have the choice before us.”

And, with little more than a month until COP26 begins, the prime minister said: “We are awesome in our power to change things and awesome in our power to save ourselves.

“In the next 40 days we must choose what kind of awesome we are going to be.

“I hope that COP26 will be a 16th birthday for humanity in which we choose to grow up, to recognise the scale of the challenge we face, to do what posterity demands we must.

“I invite you in November to celebrate what I hope will be a coming of age and to blow out the candles of a world on fire.”

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The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

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