In a fireside chat with climate reporter Max Bearak at The New York Times Climate Forward Conversations in Sharm el Sheikh earlier today, former U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson discussed the impact of the war in Ukraine on advancing climate solutions and addressing loss and damage.
Key quotes from In Conversation With Boris Johnson:
On climate reparations:
“The best way to fix this is not to look backwards and to try to put up some, build philosophy damage that the U.K. or other countries have done, but to actually try to look at what the U.K. can do to help to take countries forward and to give them help them to achieve the carbon reductions in green technology that they need. And the opportunity in Africa is enormous, because as I say, right now, Africa contributes only 4% of global emissions. absolutely astonishing. And when you consider the size of the African population, there’s opportunity to leapfrog. Now, for Africa, for Africa, we’re not depleting coal, not to use oil and gas and this controversy now, in many African countries about the way forward, I would say that our job is to try to help African countries find those green solutions and use government investment to trigger that.”
On the war in Ukraine:
“The reason I’m here is because I’m worried about the discussion about Ukraine and what’s happening there is having lots of bad effects, it’s making people anxious about net zero and whether we can do it. This is the moment to double down on these solutions and to not give in to Putin’s energy blackmail. There are plenty of people who disagree with me, but I think this is a discussion about right and wrong. What Putin has done is evil and if he gets away with it the consequences will be disastrous.”
On loss and damage:
“The budgetary pressures are massive right now but that doesn’t mean in the U.K. we aren’t doing a huge amount. It’s important though to recognize that there is a gap – at COP26 we, the developed world, [made promises to address loss and damage] and we’re way short of that at the moment. The way forward is that the taxpayer in the developed world will have to do something, but certainly not right now, but to trigger the private sector to come in is the real solution. The markets have trillions and trillions that they can commit to green energy and climate solutions. The answer to this problem will be found in a partnership between an activist international community and the private sector investing, that is what will fix this thing.”
On the cost of living crisis:
“The answer is not to renew our addiction to hydrocarbons, that’s why I’m here – the answer is to accelerate the adoption of green solutions. In the short term, we have to abate the costs, the impact, for those who are feeling it.”
On young climate activists:
“At the current rate, we are failing. We’ve got to do much, much more. We need to work harder. Young people want us to go further and faster.