Despite Boris Johnson's failings and Russian military threats, climate change can never be ignored – Scotsman comment

At the end of his speech on climate change yesterday, the president of the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit, Alok Sharma, said the final line of the film Don’t Look Up – “We really did have everything, didn’t we?” – had stayed with him.

"We do have everything. And we must not throw it away. There is no more time to: ‘sit tight and assess’. We must deliver. Together. Now,” Sharma said at an event in Chatham House in London.

The Netflix film is a satire of how the world has reacted to climate change in which humanity is faced with the news that scientists have discovered that a ‘planet killer’ comet is on a collision course with Earth.

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For some at least, the humour may have been difficult to enjoy, given how close we now are to crossing the threshold into “dangerous climate change” and the risk of triggering a number of tipping points that could, possibly, lead to runaway global warming.

For others, COP26 may feel like yesterday’s news, given the headlines are necessarily dominated by Boris Johnson’s inadequacies as Prime Minister and the increasingly alarming prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Sharma, who will hand over the presidency of the climate change talks later this year, is among those who believe that it is still possible to prevent global warming from going above the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit set by scientists to avoid dangerous and long-lasting effects on our climate.

He highlighted the fact that 197 countries of the world had come to an agreement in Glasgow because they recognised that “this planet is our only home and we are in danger of destroying it. The science is clear, human activity is responsible for our changing climate”.

Jennifer Lawrence plays a scientist in the Netflix film Don't Look Up who discovers a comet that's on a collision course with Earth (Picture: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Furthermore, Sharma stressed that delaying action would “create immense risks and costs”, while countries that wanted to remain competitive needed to be at the forefront of the drive to net-zero emissions, which he described as “one of the clearest economic trends there has ever been”.

Whatever happens in the world that demands our immediate attention, we cannot not forget that, like the fictional comet, the scale of this potentially existential threat is growing, steadily and remorselessly. And it will continue to do so until we finally stop adding fuel to its fire.

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