Climate Action

Sir David Attenborough tells UN ‘It is too late to avoid climate change’

Sir David Attenborough joined the UK Prime Minister this week at the UN Security Council telling its 15 members that it it is too late to avoid climate change.

  • 26 February 2021
  • Gabrielle Waterman

Sir David Attenborough joined the UK Prime Minister this week at the UN Security Council telling its 15 members that it it is too late to avoid climate change.

Sir David Attenborough said: "There is no going back - no matter what we do now, it's too late to avoid climate change and the poorest, the most vulnerable, those with the least security, are now certain to suffer."

He continued: “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 out last opportunity to make the necessary step-change.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired the virtual session of the council to urge members to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change impacts, and to work towards cutting global emission to net zero by 2050. This was the first time a British Prime Minister has chaired the UNSC in nearly 30 years, and the first leader-level discussion on climate at the Security Council.

Ahead of the chairing the UN Security Council (UNSC) session, Prime Minister said “Unlike many issues the 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”.

He warned the Council that unless urgent action is taken to tackle climate change, the world risks worsening conflict, displacement and insecurity, describing climate change as a “threat to our collective security and the security of our nations.”

Giving examples of the impacts climate change can have, the Prime Minister told the council to “Think of the girl who drops out of school because her daily search for water takes her further and further from her family – and into the clutches of human traffickers and the international criminal gangs who profit from them. Or think of a farmer who has lost harvest after harvest to drought and then switches to poppies because poppies are a hardier crop, with the impacts that the opium crops have on the streets of all our cities, quite frankly.”

Boris Johnson closed the speech by adding “Whether you like it or not, it is a matter of when, not if, your country and your people will have to deal with the security impacts of climate change. So let’s do what this Council was created to do and let’s show the kind of global leadership that is needed to protect the peace, the security and the stability of our nations, of our regions and of our world.”

The Prime Minster has addressed the UNSC as part of the UK’s month-long presidency. The UK will also be hosting a high-level Climate and Development Ministerial event on the 31st March with representatives from the countries most vulnerable climate change around the world, as well as major donors and international institutions.