Boris Johnson has today told world leaders that now is “not the moment to go weak on net-zero” at the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt.
Referencing the global energy crisis, the former Prime Minister said “much damage has been done in just one year to our common purpose of tackling man-made climate change” but that “this is not the moment to abandon the campaign for net-zero and turn our backs on renewables”.
It comes as Rishi Sunak met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this morning for the first time as Prime Minister.
Sunak is set to deliver a speech at the Sharm El-Sheikh climate conference at 4pm, before flying back to London tonight.
The conference comes after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a global energy shortage and caused prices to surge across much of the world.
Johnson told a New York Times event that the fight against climate change “has been one of the most important collateral damages” from the Russo-Ukrainian war.
In a clear rebuke to former Prime Minister Liz Truss, Johnson said: “There are people who have drawn the conclusions that the whole project of net-zero needs to be delayed, mothballed, put on ice and, for instance, we need to reopen coal fire power stations and frack the hell out of the British countryside.
“I believe that here in Sharm is a moment where we have to tackle this nonsense head on.
“This is not the moment to go weak on net-zero, it’s the moment to double-down on green technology and the moment to double-down on wind power and clean, green solutions. This is not the moment to give in to Putin’s energy blackmail.”
Johnson led last year’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, which was earmarked as a key year for world leaders to renew climate pledges after the 2015 Cop21 Paris climate summit.
All 197 attending countries agreed to “phase down” the use of coal, after an original agreement to “phase out” the fossil fuel was vetoed by India and China.
This was considered a large disappointment at the time and led to Cop26 President Alok Sharma tearily apologising for not being able to broker a stronger agreement.
Johnson said last year’s conference was the first time when “the clouds of despair momentarily parted for me to see a tiny glimmer of hope” on curbing climate change.
“I could see a way in which we really might be able to say we could restrict the growth in temperatures on our planet to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century,” he said.