Boris Johnson talks about COP26 climate agreements, but falls over the Attenborough mask controversy

When the British Prime Minister spoke to CNN on the sidelines of the negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland, the British Prime Minister struck a gloomy tone on the climate emergency and said “I think you have to be doom and gloom until we fix it here “and insisted the world was” forward “in resolving the crisis.

“The threat is huge, I think it has been very humiliating to listen to some of the testimonials from countries like Bangladesh, the Maldives, the Seychelles in the front line,” Johnson told CNN. “Are we starting to move forward with the COP? We are without a doubt, and in some important ways you see some good commitments on trees and forests, some contributions that accelerate the movement away from coal.”

He also said his government was committed to reducing its dependence on coal despite the prospect of a controversial new mine opening in the north-west of England.

“I do not want more coal and our government does not want more coal. We will do what we are legally capable of,” Johnson said.

Johnson also struggled to explain his decision not to wear a mask at all times while sitting next to 95-year-old environmentalist David Attenborough during Monday’s summit. The prime minister sparked criticism after he was pictured in some photographs without a mask next to the veteran broadcaster and climate activist, although Johnson was seen wearing a mask in other photos of the couple.

Asked about the controversy, Johnson stumbled before saying, “I’ve worn masks in enclosed spaces with people I don’t usually talk to … it’s up to people to make an assessment of whether they are at a reasonable distance from someone. that’s the approach we take. ”

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Johnson and Attenborough pictured at the COP26 summit on Monday.

Johnson also praised Attenborough’s speech to COP26 delegates on Monday as “enchanting” and drove home the scale of the crisis.

“I thought David Attenborough’s presentation yesterday morning was absolutely enchanting because he set out to make everyone clearly understand the link between rising carbon and the percentage of the world’s atmosphere and rising temperatures. You see that correlation over thousands of years. and suddenly. you see this increase in carbon and the beginning of the rise in temperature, and you know what’s coming. “

Johnson was also asked about his 2013 claim that the former British government had “set a load of wind farms that failed to pull the skin off a rice porridge.” He responded by saying that “everyone has the right” to change their minds and praised that developments in technology were the driving force behind his heart change.

“If you look at the sophistication of the cells … the size of the turbines … propeller blades twice the size of the London Eye … imagine that. They’s huge creations. They’re actually quite beautiful.”

Asked about the tilting nature of U.S. climate policy, and whether the world could trust any U.S. administration on the issue, Johnson struck an optimistic tone.

“What has changed now is that the voters of our countries want change and want us to rectify this. I think this applies to all major Western democracies. But I think it also applies to populations around the world, “Johnson said. He cited the example of Covid-19 and said that when populations “see something that they think is a natural disaster”, they change their behavior.

“People can see climate change happening. They can see forest fires and floods. They can see that something out of the ordinary weather events is taking place,” Johnson said. “And it’s moving up their agenda.”

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“I believe in Joe [Biden] understand it and I think people are excited about his agenda to fix it. But I believe that any future president of the United States will respond to a strong, strong, democratic pressure to join and support the rest of the world in addressing climate change. ”

Johnson also tried to defend his government’s much-criticized handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying he did not plan to impose further measures, including orders to wear masks, despite a recent rise in cases and deaths in the UK.

The Prime Minister said that while he “looked at data all the time” and that we “must remain humble towards the nature of what the disease can do,” he believed that at the moment “we can see no reason to deviate from that plan , we are on.”

He went on to praise Britain’s vaccine rollout, saying Britain was “starting to deal with Covid as part of our lives.”

This story has been updated to include more from the full interview and additional context.

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