POLITICS
23/02/2021 9:30 AM AEDT | Updated 23/02/2021 7:29 PM AEDT

David Attenborough Tells World Leaders 2021 Is Last Chance To Prevent ‘Runaway’ Climate Change

Broadcaster urges UN Security Council to avoid global warming becoming "unstoppable".

Sir David Attenborough is to warn world leaders that this year’s climate change talks are the last chance to prevent “runaway” global warming.

In a video address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the veteran broadcaster and naturalist will declare that the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November marks a key moment to avoid damage to the planet becoming “unstoppable”.

Attenborough has been invited to speak by Boris Johnson, who will chair the virtual meeting and will call on fellow leaders to tackle climate change to help avoid countries sliding into conflict over increasingly scarce natural resources.

The 94-year-old BBC broadcaster will tell the UN meeting: “If we bring emissions down with sufficient vigour we may yet avoid the tipping points that will make runaway climate change unstoppable.

“In November this year, at COP26 in Glasgow, we may have our last opportunity to make the necessary step-change.

“If we objectively view climate change and the loss of nature as world-wide security threats – as indeed, they are – then we may yet act proportionately and in time.”

The security council is currently made up of the UK, US, Russia, France and China, as well as India and Mexico.

Its latest session will be the first leader-level discussion it has held on climate, and is the first time it has been chaired by a British prime minister in nearly 30 years.

It comes as countries increasingly face the effects of rising temperatures and extreme weather, which is forcing populations to move and creating competition over increasingly scarce resources.

Of the 20 countries ranked most vulnerable to rising global temperatures, 12 are already in conflict, officials said.

Ahead of the meeting, Johnson said: “From the communities uprooted by extreme weather and hunger, to warlords capitalising on the scramble for resources – a warming planet is driving insecurity.

“Unlike many issues the security council deals with, this is one we know exactly how to address. By helping vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and cutting global emissions to net zero, we will protect not only the bountiful biodiversity of our planet, but its prosperity and security.”

Christian Aid’s climate policy lead, Dr Kat Kramer, added: “Millions of the world’s poorest people are already living with the impacts of climate change, which is forcing displacement, devastating livelihoods and putting pressure on communities who are competing over resources such as land and water.

“In some countries these impacts become the drivers of local conflicts which can be instrumentalised by leaders and escalate into violence and war.”