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Environmental crisis will be ‘worse than the pandemic’, says Sir David Attenborough

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The environmental crisis we face will be worse than the pandemic, Sir David Attenborough has said ahead of the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow in November.


Attenborough made the statement on being given the role of People’s Advocate for climate change at the summit.

He said: “The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems. But the problems that await us in the next five to ten years are even greater.

“It is crucial that these meetings in Glasgow, COP 26, have success, and that at last the nations will come together to solve the crippling problems that the world, the globe, now faces.”

Bayswater power plant, Australia. Black coal is burnt for power generation, emitting carbon dioxide into atmosphere on a sunny day. Photograph: iStock/zetter

There is less than six months to go until over 30,000 delegates from 197 countries will convene to submit their new long-term goals to address the global climate emergency. 

It is the first time the UK will host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which takes place on 1 to 12 November 2021, and is the 26th COP.

COP26 President, Alok Sharma has set out four goals for the UK. These are: securing global net zero, protecting communities and natural habitats from the impacts of climate change, mobilising finance and working together to accelerate action.

Making the announcement last month on 11 May, he said: “It is not a choice between cleaning up our environment and growing economies. We can do both at the same time. Indeed we have done both at the same time.”

At COP26, the UK will work with partners to take forward action on protecting and restoring forests and critical ecosystems. It will also champion the transition towards sustainable and ‘nature positive’ agriculture.

In concluding his speech, Mr Sharma repeated the importance of COP26 for the world to meet the limit of a global temperature rise of 1.5C – the promise enshrined by the Paris agreement in December 2015.

“This is our last hope of keeping 1.5 degrees alive. Our best chance of building a brighter future. A future of green jobs and cleaner air,” he said.

“I have faith that world leaders will rise to the occasion, and not be found wanting in their tryst with destiny.”

“That, in six months time, when we are packing up and going home, we will be able to say, that at this critical juncture, each of us took responsibility.”

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