Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, told world leaders on Wednesday night that humanity must “grow up” and learn to deal with climate change. In his impassioned speech, the British premier compared the collective conscience of humans to an impetuous 16-year-old – a teenager on a bender – and said that it is high time that we stopped trashing the planet. “My friends, the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end,” Johnson addressed world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. “We must come together in a collective coming of age.”
Boris Johnson’s UNGA speech comes ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which he is set to host in six weeks’ time. The Wednesday address is meant to be preparation for Johnson’s demands to press governments for tougher emissions, cutting targets, and more money to help poor countries clean up their economies.
“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,” he said. “And never mind what that will do to the ice floes.”
Johnson said that 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,” he said.
The British prime minister said that humanity is behaving like an impetuous 16-year-old, “just old enough to get ourselves into serious trouble”.
“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,” Johnson said, adding that human beings “trash” the environment again and again with the inductive reasoning that we will somehow be getting away with it since we have got by so far.
In positive developments with regards to climate change this week, two of the world’s biggest economies – China and the United States – have vowed to cut back on carbon and increase funding on climate-conscious projects. While China’s president Xi Jinping said that his country will no longer fund coal-fired power plants abroad, US president Joe Biden announced a plan to double financial aid for green growth to poorer nations to $11.4 billion by 2024.
The United Kingdom, for its part, has vowed to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, and Johnson has championed the expansion of renewable energy, saying the UK could become the “Saudi Arabia of wind.”