David Attenborough calls on world leaders to make the key changes at COP26

During his opening ceremony speech, the broadcasting legend reminded world leaders at the conference that ‘the world is looking to you’

Pathway to COP26 report

Sir David Attenborough gave a compelling speech at the COP26 opening ceremony, on the urgent need for action to mitigate climate change and how important the next fortnight could be in the future.

“Our burning of fossil fuels, our destruction of nature, our approach to industry, construction and learning are releasing carbon into the atmosphere at an unprecedented pace and scale.

“We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking,” he warned.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s earlier speech spoke of the work developed countries must do to help developing countries in the battle against climate change and Sir David did not shy away from the role these countries must play in changing the landscape: “This story is one of inequality, as well as instability. Today, those who’ve done the least to cause this problem are being the hardest hit. Ultimately, all of us will feel the impacts, some of which are now unavoidable.”

His speech was not all doom and gloom, however, as he said: “We are after all, the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth. We now understand this problem. We know how to stop the number rising and put it in reverse. We must recapture billions of tonnes of carbon from the air, we must fix our sights on keeping 1.5° within reach.”

“A new industrial revolution, powered by millions of sustainable innovations is essential and is indeed already beginning. We will all share in the benefits – affordable clean energy, healthy air and enough food to sustain us all.”

“Nature is a key ally, whenever we restore the wild, it will recapture carbon and help us bring back balance to our planet.”

Mr Attenborough did stress that cause for optimism in the midst of a depressing situation was to be found and that the world leaders with the power in their hands during the course of the summit should be aware of their role: “We must use this opportunity to create a more equal world and our motivation should be not be fear but hope.”

“In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a terrible decline. In yours, you could and should witness a wonderful recovery. That desperate hope, ladies and gentlemen, delegates, excellencies, is why the world is looking to you and why you are here.”

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