tv British Prime Minister Johnson Addresses the U.N. CSPAN September 28, 2021 4:01am-4:26am EDT
great journey toward the end of the occupation. the occupation of the land of the state of palestine and its capital, east jerusalem, we say again, this is our land, our jerusalem. our palestinian identity, and we shall defend until the occupier leaves, as the future belongs to us. you cannot claim the security for yourself alone, let us be, peace be upon you. [applause] >> on behalf of the general assembly, i wish to thank the president of the state of lestine for the statement just made. >> i have great pleasure in
welcoming his excellency boris johnson, prime minister of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland. i invite him to address the assembly. >> thank you very much. mr. president, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. thank you to all of you, you faithful you who have waited until the end of this important session. good to see my audience. folks, an inspection of the fossil record over the last 178 million years -- since mammals first appeared -- reveals that the average mammalian species exists for about a million years before it evolves into something else or vanishes into extinction. of our allotted lifespan of a million years, humanity, homo sapiens, has been around for about 200,000.
in other words, we are still collectively a youngster. if you imagine that million years as the lifespan of an individual human being -- about 80 years -- then we are now sweet 16. we have come to that fateful age when we know roughly how to drive and we know how to unlock the drinks cabinet and to engage in all sorts of activity that is not only potentially embarrassing, but also terminal for ourselves and others. in the words of the oxford philosopher toby ord, "we are just old enough to get ourselves into serious trouble." and i'm afraid we believe, we still cling with part of our minds to the infantile belief that the world was made for our gratification and pleasure and we combine this narcissism with an assumption of our own immortality. we believe that someone else will clear up the mess, because that is what someone else has
always done. we trash our habitats again and again with the inductive reasoning that we have got away with it so far, and therefore we will get away with it again. my friends, the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end. and must come to an end. we are approaching that critical turning point -- in less than two months, in just over 40 days -- when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet, but upon ourselves. it is time for humanity to grow up. it is time for us to listen to the warnings of the scientists -- and if you look at covid, if you want an example of gloomy scientists being proved right -- it's time for us to grow up and to understand who we are and what we are doing.
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. 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. and that is why the glasgow cop26 summit is the turning point for humanity. we must limit the rise in temperatures -- whose appalling effects were visible even this summer -- to 1.5 degrees. we must come together in a collective coming of age. we must show that we have the maturity and wisdom to act. and we can.
even in this past 16 years as it were, this feckless youth we have just passed, we have shown our skill, harnessed clean energy from wind and wave and sun. we have released energy from within the atom itself and from hydrogen, and we have found ways to store that energy in increasingly capacious batteries and even in molten salt. we have the tools for a green industrial revolution. we've got the kit, but time is desperately short. two days ago, here in new york, we had a session in which we heard from the leaders of the nations most threatened by climate change -- the marshall islands, the maldives, bangladesh, and many others. and they spoke of the hurricanes and the flooding and the fires caused by the extreme meteorological conditions the
world is already seeing. and the tragedy is that because of our past inaction, there are further rises in temperatures that are already baked in -- and my friends, baked is the word. and if we keep on the current track then the temperatures will go up by 2.7 degrees or more by the end of the century. and never mind what that will do to the ice floes, desolving like ice in your martini here in new york. we will see desertification, drought, crop failure, and mass movements of humanity on a scale not seen before, not because of some unforeseen natural event or disaster, but because of us, because of what we are doing now. and our grandchildren will know that we are the culprits and they will know that we knew,
that we were warned, and they will know that it was this generation that came center stage to speak and act on behalf of them, on behalf of posterity, and that we missed our cue, and they will ask what kind of people we were to be so selfish and so short-sighted. in just 40 days' time, we need the world to come to glasgow to make the commitments necessary. and we are not talking, i'm afraid, about stopping the rise in temperatures -- we can't do that, it's too late to stop the rise in temperatures -- but to restrain that growth, as i say, to 1.5 degrees. and that means we need to pledge collectively to achieve carbon neutrality -- net zero -- by the middle of the century. and that will be an amazing
moment if we can do it, because it will mean that for the first time in centuries, humanity is no longer adding to the budget of carbon in the atmosphere, no longer thickening that invisible quilt that is warming the planet, and it is fantastic that we now have countries here at the when there's at the un representing 70% of the world's gdp who are committed to this net zero objective. when we began, that number was only 30% of world gdp. so we're getting there, is the point i'm making. but if we are to stave off these hikes, these rises in temperature, we must go further and we must go faster. we need all countries -- every
single one of you to step up and commit to very substantial reductions by 2030. and i passionately believe that we can do it by making commitments in four areas -- coal, cars, cash, and trees. coal, cars, cash, and trees. it's very simple. i am not one of those environmentalists, by the way, who takes a moral pleasure in excoriating humanity for its excess. i don't see the green movement as a pretext for a wholesale assault on capitalism. far from it. the whole experience of the covid pandemic is that the way to fix the problem is through science and innovation, the breakthroughs and the investment s that are made possible by capitalism and free markets, and it is through our promethean
faith in new green technology that we are cutting emissions in the u.k. when i was a kid, we produced almost 80% of our electricity from coal. i know that some of you here tonight rely very heavily on coal. but in the u.k., that percentage is down to 2% or less, and it will be gone altogether by 2024. we have put in great forests of beautiful wind turbines on the drowned prairies of doggerland beneath the north sea. in fact, we produce so much offshore wind that i am thinking of changing my name in honor of the god of the north wind to boreas johnson. and i know that we are ambitious
in asking the developing world to end the use of coal power by 2040, and for the developed world to do so by 2030, but the experience of the u.k. shows that it can be done, and profitably, too. and i thank president xi of china for what he has done to end china's international financing of coal and i hope china will now go further and phase out the domestic use of coal as well -- wouldn't that be a great thing -- because the experience of the u.k. shows it can be done. and when i was elected mayor of london only a mere 13 years ago, i was desperate to encourage more electric vehicles and we went around the city putting in charging points. and i am afraid that in those days they were pretty lonley objects and were not much patronized. but the market in ev's in the u.k. is now growing at an
extraordinary pace -- maybe two thirds every year -- and nissan is sufficiently confident now to invest £1 billion in a new ev factory plus a gigafactory for batteries. and that is because we have set a hard deadline for the sale of new hydrocarbon internal combustion vehicles by 2030 and again, we call on the world to come together to drive this market in a low carbon way, drive this market so that by 2040 there are only zero emission vehicles on sale anywhere in the world. and my point is you can make these massive cuts in pollution and emissions while driving jobs and growth. we have cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 44% in the last 30 years while expanding our gdp by 78%.
and we will now go further by implementing one of the biggest nationally determined contributions currently being offered. the nationally determined contribution, the ndc is the pledge in the runoff to -- runup to cop that we ask every country to make in cutting carbon -- going down by 68% by 2030, compared to where we were in 1990. we are making a big bet on hydrogen, we are expanding nuclear capacity, and you can see the logic in that when you see the spike in particularly gas. we are helping people to reduce their own household co2. by retrofitting their homes going for new sources of
heating. we are working towards jet zero -- the first large carbon-free passenger plane. and we also recognize that this is not just about using technical fixes to cut co2 -- we need to work together around the world to restore the natural balance. between humanity and nature. we need to halt and reverse the loss of trees and biodiversity by 2030. halt and reverse the loss of trees and biodiversity by 2030. that is what we should do. pledge to do that at the cop. and that is why we in the u.k. are committed to beautifying the landscape, strengthening our protection against flooding, by planting millions more trees. stop soil erosion, provide
habitats for insects and birds and mammals, which of course help to fix carbon in the atmosphere. we must also work towards the crucial u.n. kunming summit in china. by the way, on the subject of planting trees, i was blown away. i invite everyone to follow imran khan of pakistan who has pledged to plant 10 billion trees in pakistan alone. it is very important that we in the developed world recognize our obligation to help less-developed countries in all these technologies. and we have got to be honest. we in the united kingdom, we in britain, started this industrial revolution.
we were the first to send the great puffs of acrid smoke to the heavens on a scale big enough to derange the natural order. although we were doing something wonderful in one sense, we were setting in train a new era of technology that was itself to lead to a massive global reduction in poverty, emancipating billions around the world, but we were also unwittingly beginning to quilt the great tea cosy of co2 and so we understand that when the developing world looks to us to help, we must take our responsibilities. and that's why two years ago when i last came here, i committed that the u.k.
would provide 11.6 billion to help the rest of the world to tackle climate change. and i want you to know that despite all the pressures on finances caused by covid, we have kept that promise to the letter. so i am very pleased and encouraged by some of the pledges we have heard here at unga, including from denmark, and now a very substantial commitment from the u.s. that brings us within touching distance of the $100 billion pledge that we need, every year. but we must go further, and we must be clear that government cash alone will not be able to do enough. we must work together so that the international financial institutions -- the imf, the world bank -- are working with governments around the world to leverage in the private sector, because it is the trillions of dollars of private sector cash
that will enable developing nations -- and the whole world -- to make the changes necessary. to give an example, it was the u.k. government that set the strike price for the private sector to come in and transform our country into the saudi arabia of wind. we produce more offshore wind than any other country in the world. it was only yesterday the uk's first sovereign green bond raised 10 billion on the markets, from hard-headed investors who want to make money. and my point is that these investments will not only help the countries of the world to tackle climate change, they will produce millions and millions of
high wage, high skill jobs, and today's workforce and the next generation of green collar workers will have the extra satisfaction of knowing that they are not only doing something useful, providing green energy, but also helping to save the planet at the same time. every day green start-ups are producing new ideas, from feeding seaweed to cows to restrain their traditional signs of digestive approval, to using artificial intelligence and robotics to enhance food production. capture co2, put it into brownies, and so on. and it is these technological breakthroughs that will cut the cost for consumers, so that we have nothing to fear and
everything to gain from this green industrial revolution. and when kermit the frog sang "it's not easy being green," i -- you remember that one? -- i want you to know he was wrong . he was wrong. it's right and easy to be green. he was also unnecessarily rude to miss piggy. but that is easy to be green. we have the technology -- as they used to say when i was a kid. we can do it. we have the choice before us. the poet sophocles is often quoted -- at least by me -- as saying that there are many terrifying things in the world,
but none is more terrifying than mankind. and it's certainly true that sophocles was right in that sense. our species is uniquely capable of our own destruction, and the destruction of everything around us. but what sophocles actually said was that man is deinos, and that means that humanity is awesome. terrifying but also awesome. and i think he was right. we have an awesome power to change things and change things for the better. and an awesome power to save ourselves. and in the next 40 days we must
choose what kind of awesome we are going to be. and to get back to my metaphor of adolescence, i hope that cop26 will be a 16th birthday party for humanity in which we choose to grow up, to recognize the scale of the challenge that we face, and to do what posterity demands we must. and so i invite you come out great u.n. assembly, in november, to come take part in your actions in what i hope will be a global coming-of-age and blow out the candles of a world on fire. that is what i think we should do.
thank you all so much. thank you all for the pledges that you are making. i hope that you will increase them and do what is necessary. mr. president, see you in glasgow. thank you. [applause] >> on behalf of the general assembly, i wish to thank the prime minister of the treasury and minister of the civil service of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland for the statement just made. and i request for a call to escort his excellency.