Sir David Attenborough urges G7 leaders to show 'global will' to tackle climate change

Attenborough addressed the G7 summit over video call, where he claimed "the decisions we make in this decade are the most important in human history."

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Leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall have been told to demonstrate the “global will” to tackle climate change by Sir David Attenborough.

The television naturalist said the scientific response to the Covid-19 pandemic had demonstrated what was possible when there was a “clear and urgent” goal.

But the fight against climate change was as much a “political and communications” challenge as a scientific one, he said in a video address.

Sir David told the leaders gathered in Carbis Bay: “The scientific collaboration on Covid treatment and vaccines showed just how much we can achieve together when the goal is clear and urgent.

“We know in detail what is happening to our planet. And we know all of the things we need to do during this decade.

“Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific or technological one.

“We have the skills to address it in time. All we need is the global will to do so.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was urging G7 leaders to drive a “global green industrial revolution” to help developing nations reap the benefits of clean economic growth.

The leaders were setting out plans to reverse biodiversity loss and to fund infrastructure development around the world.

Protesters holding a banner on an XR Protest from St Ives Leisure Centre to St Ives, during the G7 summit in Cornwall.
Protesters holding a banner on an XR Protest from St Ives Leisure Centre to St Ives, during the G7 summit in Cornwall.

Mr Johnson also launched a £500 million “blue planet fund” to protect the world’s oceans and marine life.

Mixed in with the environmental intentions of the G7 is an attempt to reassert the values of the world’s leading democracies.

The “build back better for the world” plan will bring together G7 countries to develop an offer for high-quality financing for vital infrastructure, from railways in Africa to wind farms in Asia.

The move is part of an attempt to counter Beijing’s “belt and road” initiative which has spread Chinese influence around the globe.

The new approach is intended to give developing countries access to more, better and faster finance, while accelerating the global shift to renewable energy and sustainable technology.

The G7 summit has taken place in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
The G7 summit has taken place in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

G7 nations are expected to commit to almost halving their emissions by 2030 relative to 2010, a commitment already exceeded by the UK which has promised a 58% cut.

The countries will set out the action they will take to slash carbon emissions, including measures like ending all unabated coal use as soon as possible, halting almost all direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas and phasing out petrol and diesel cars.

The G7 will also endorse a nature compact, aimed at halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 – including supporting the global target to conserve or protect at least 30% of land and oceans by the end of the decade.

The UK’s blue planet fund will offer £500 million to help countries including Ghana, Indonesia and Pacific island states tackle unsustainable fishing, protect and restore coastal ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs, and reduce marine pollution.

The fund will run for at least five years.

Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven, said: “While commitments to provide more support to developing nations are absolutely vital, until they cough up the cash, we’re taking nothing for granted.

“The dismal track record of rich nations to honour commitments made over a decade ago on international climate finance, alongside the UK’s decision to slash its aid budget, makes it hard to take the so-called ‘build back better for the world’ plan with anything more than a pinch of salt.”