COP26 day one in quotes: Boris Johnson, David Attenborough and Joe Biden speak on climate crisis

·3-min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. - COP26, running from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow will be the biggest climate conference since the 2015 Paris summit and is seen as crucial in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming, as well as firming up other key commitments. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JEFF J MITCHELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. (Getty)

It's been an eventful first day at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, not always for the right reasons.

The climate change summit didn’t start brilliantly with around 2,000 delegates and journalists forced to wait in massive queues outside the conference centre in icy weather.

When the event started, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson kicked it off with a message to the world leaders, telling them they needed to take “concrete steps” to help countries deal with the climate crisis.

Natural history broadcaster David Attenborough, 95, also made an impassioned plea for change during the conference. 

Elsewhere some moments distracted from the main message, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologising for making a Nazi comparison, US President Joe Biden was accused of falling asleep and climate activist Greta Thunberg made a roaring speech outside.

Watch: David Attenborough: We must turn ‘tragedy into triumph’

Here is day one of COP26 in quotes

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologised for suggesting failure to act at COP26 could be graver than leaders who ignored warnings about the Nazis.

“It’s never right to make comparisons with the atrocities brought by the Nazis and I’m sorry for the offence caused to Jews by these words.”

US President Joe Biden’s speech was well-received despite accusations he had fallen asleep during another speech.

“Climate change is already ravaging the world. It’s not hypothetical. 

"It’s not a hypothetical threat. It is destroying people’s lives and livelihoods, and doing it every single day.”

Read more:

What is COP26 and how will it affect the future of climate change?

What is greenwashing?

What will the world look like in 2030, 2040, 2050?

Watch: Boris Johnson compares climate change to James Bond

Greta Thunberg, outside the conference speaking to protesters.

“We say no more blah blah blah, no more exploitation of people and nature and the planet. No more exploitation.

“No more blah blah blah. No more whatever the f*** they are doing inside there”.

David Attenborough said the motivation for tackling climate change should “not be fear, but hope”.

“It comes down to this. The people alive now or the generation to come will look at this conference and consider one thing – did that number stop rising and start to drop as a result to drop as a result of commitments made here."

The Prince of Wales addressed world leaders after tripping up on the way to the stage.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us just how devastating a global cross-border threat can be.

“Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different – in fact, they pose an even greater existential threat, to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned world leaders are “in roughly the same position” as James Bond.

“We are in roughly the same position, my fellow global leaders, as James Bond today – except that the tragedy is this is not a movie and the doomsday device is real.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 01:  Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley speaks during the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 at SECC on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. World Leaders attending COP26 are under pressure to agree measures to deliver on emission reduction targets that will lead the world to net-zero by 2050. Other goals of the summit are adapting to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilising  $100billion in climate finance per year and get countries working together to meet the challenges of the climate crisis.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley speaks during the opening ceremony. (Getty)

Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley made a dire warning.

“1.5C is what we need to stay alive – two degrees is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the people of the Maldives, for the people of Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique – and yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbados.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the country would meet a target of net zero emissions by 2070.

“I am sure that the decisions taken in Glasgow will safeguard the future of generations to come and give them a safe and prosperous life.”

Watch: 'Shove your climate crisis' sings Greta Thunberg

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