The Prime Minister and Kermit fall out

By Aimee Howard

In a speech yesterday at the 76th Session of the United General Assembly, Prime Minister  Johnson has alleged the COP26 summit, only 40 days away, will be “the turning point for humanity. We must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves.”

Using his speech to call for change, he cautioned that climate change was unavoidable, but that action must be taken to restrict temperatures rising. Johnson centres on four themes – “coal, cars, cash and trees” and added: “it’s time for humanity to grow up… look at COVID if you want an example of gloomy scientists being proved right.”

Evidently attempting to set the tone for Glasgow, the fifteen-minute speech was also another bid on Johnson’s part to mould himself as a global warming activist. He stipulated his fellow leaders make changes including:

  • Every country reduces carbon emissions by 68% by 2030, compared to levels in 1990
  • To stop and rectify biodiversity degrading by 2030
  • To end the use of coal power in the developing world by 2040 and in the developed world by 2030
  • To allow only zero-emission vehicles to be sold by 2040 across the globe

These are bold pledges that underline Johnson’s agenda for the upcoming summit and his endeavour to become a global leader on the subject. However, he himself noted in advance of the trip that there was only a “six out of 10 chance” of achieving the targeted £70 billion financial pledge before the summit.

Whist he seeks to make an impression internationally, domestically the Prime Minister is blundering – his policy for insulating homes is severely delayed, as are his other proposals for financing transitioning to low carbon, farming and aviation.

Indeed, a new report published earlier this month by the think tank the Green Alliance[1] says current plans will deliver less than a quarter of the cuts needed to meet the UK’s 2030 climate goal. The building strategy in particular has been hindered by ministers simply unable to decide  how to actually assist people with insulation and installing low-carbon heating.

Moreover, plans such as constructing HS2, cutting air passenger duty on domestic flights and permitting a coal mine to be built in Whitehaven in Cumbria, will derail the UK’s targets even further.

There is however one individual Johnson is willing to challenge – Muppets charact Kermit the Frog, who sang: “It’s not easy being green.” Johnson affirmed: “He was wrong. It is easy to be green.”


[1] ‘Despite climate promises, the government is set to miss targets’, the Green Alliance, https://green-alliance.org.uk/press_release_despite_climate_promises_government_set_to%20miss_targets%20.php.