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World leaders urged to try harder to avoid climate change ‘death sentence’

Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley said the world ‘stands at a fork in the road’ in Glasgow.

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The Barbadian PM addressed the opening ceremony of Cop26 (Yves Herman/PA)

The Barbadian PM addressed the opening ceremony of Cop26 (Yves Herman/PA)

The Barbadian PM addressed the opening ceremony of Cop26 (Yves Herman/PA)

World leaders have been urged to “try harder” on climate change in a bid to avoid a “death sentence” for developing countries.

In a blistering speech at the opening of Cop26, Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley pushed those in attendance, while launching a veiled attack at those who chose not to come to Glasgow for the key talks.

Both Russian president Vladimir Putin of Russia and president Xi Jinping of China, whose countries are some of the biggest emitters of carbon in the world, chose not to come to the event.

If our existence is to mean anything, then we must act in the interest of all of our people that are dependent on usMia Mottley

“Our world, my friends, stands at a fork in the road, one no less significant than when the United Nations was formed in 1945,” Ms Mottley said.

“But then, the majority of our countries here did not exist – we exist now – and the difference is we want to exist 100 years from now.

“If our existence is to mean anything, then we must act in the interest of all of our people that are dependent on us.

“If we don’t, we will allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.”

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Mia Mottley arrives for the Cop26 summit (Phil Noble/PA)

Mia Mottley arrives for the Cop26 summit (Phil Noble/PA)

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Mia Mottley arrives for the Cop26 summit (Phil Noble/PA)

Developing nations, she said, were looking to bigger nations to take action, as they look to mitigate the impacts of emissions they had not created.

“(The temperature rise limit of) 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.

“We do not want that dreaded death sentence and we’ve come here today to say: ‘Try harder, try harder.’

“Because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet, needs our action now – not next year, not in the next decade.”

She also spoke out against those who had not come to Glasgow, urging leaders to “encircle” countries unwilling to take action on emissions.

“We can work with who is ready to go, because the train is ready to leave.

“Those who are not yet ready, we need to continue to encircle and remind them that their people, not our people, but their citizens need them to get on board as soon as possible.”

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