British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was travelling to the United States on Sunday with senior Cabinet officials to urge world leaders attending the U.N. General Assembly to take urgent action on climate change ahead of this fall’s COP26 climate summit in Scotland.
Johnson is set to co-host a meeting on climate change with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres on Monday. The two will discuss the need to help developing countries mitigate the impact of climate change.
“This week, as world leaders arrive in New York for the biggest diplomatic event of the year, I will be pushing them to take concrete action on coal, climate, cars and trees so we can make a success of COP26 and keep our climate goals within reach,” Johnson said in a statement.
Britain is hosting the COP26 climate summit from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow. The conference is billed as a pivotal moment to persuade governments, industry and investors to make binding commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to make progress on reducing global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The British government says 100 world leaders have confirmed they will attend the conference. But Alok Sharma, the British official serving as the conference’s president, was not able to confirm Sunday whether Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed to attending the talks, or whether China would definitely be sending a delegation.
“On the issue of whether Xi Jinping is going to come, that is not yet confirmed. Normally these things come a bit closer to summits. I am very, very hopeful that we will have a delegation from China,” Sharma told the BBC.
He told Sky News that Beijing, as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, would have to be a key part of any climate change agreement.
“They have said to me they want the COP26 to be a success. The ball is in their court. We want them to come forward and make it a success together with the rest of the world,” he said.
Johnson, Sharma and newly appointed British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrive in New York on Sunday for a four-day visit to the U.S.
After the U.N. General Assembly, Johnson and Truss will visit the White House for talks on climate, the pandemic and international security. It will be Johnson’s first visit to the White House since President Joe Biden took office.