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‘We have to make a choice’ – what world leaders are saying at COP 26

COP 26, a U.N. conference critical to averting the most disastrous effects of climate change, kicked off on Monday, its task made even more daunting by the failure of major industrial nations to agree ambitious new commitments.

‘We have to make a choice’ – what world leaders are saying at COP 26

Here are some key quotes from world leaders and environmental activists.

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON

“Too many of us make commitments here – and then sign commercial contracts that do exactly the opposite.”

BRITISH BROADCASTER AND ENVIRONMENTALIST DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

“If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are a force powerful enough to save it.”

HEIR TO THE BRITISH THRONE PRINCE CHARLES

“Quite literally it is the last-chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions.”

U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

“Glasgow must be the start of a decade of shared ambition and innovation to preserve our future.”

“We can do this – we just have to make a choice to do it.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talk during an event on action and solidarity at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 1, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Pool

MALDIVES PRESIDENT IBRAHIM M. SOLIH

“What will it take for you to listen to us?”

“Our islands are slowly being inundated one by one.”

MALAWI PRESIDENT LAZARUS MCCARTHY CHAKWERA

“The money pledge to least developed nations by developed nations … is not a donation, but a cleaning fee.”

“Neither Africa in general, nor Malawi in particular, will take ‘no’ for an answer. Not any more.”

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT URSULA VON DER LEYEN

“Put a price on carbon. Nature cannot pay that price any more.”

FIJI’S PRIME MINISTER JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA

“The science is clear … no city, no community and no ecosystem will be spared from the reckoning that lies beyond 1.5 degrees of warming, including our oceans, the lungs of the planet.

TXAI SURUÍ, 24-YEAR-OLD INDIGENOUS YOUTH LEADER FROM THE AMAZON RAINFOREST

“Today, the climate is warming, the animals are disappearing, the rivers are dying and our plants don’t flower like they did before. The Earth is speaking. She tells us that we have no more time.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON

“Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It’s one minute to midnight on that Doomsday clock and we need to act now.”

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES

“If commitments fall short at the end of this COP, countries must revisit their national climate plans and policies – not every five years (but) every year and every moment.”

SWEDISH ACTIVIST GRETA THUNBERG, retweeting an appeal for supporters to sign an open letter accusing leaders of betrayal:

“This is not a drill. It’s code red for the Earth. Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated – a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide.”

SAMOAN ENVIRONMENTALIST BRIANNA FRUEAN

“We are not just victims to this crisis, we have been resilient beacons of hope. Pacific youth have rallied behind the cry ‘We are not drowning, we are fighting’. This is our warrior cry to the world. We are not drowning, we are fighting. This is my message from Earth to COP.”

BARBADOS PRIME MINISTER MIA MOTTLEY

“Our people are watching and our people are taking note … Can there be peace and prosperity if one third of the world lives in prosperity and two-thirds live under seas and face calamitous threats to our wellbeing?”

U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JAKE SULLIVAN

“We are filling our end of the bargain at COP. The fact that China isn’t is not something that they can readily point to us.

“They are a big country, with a lot of resources and a lot of capabilities, and they are perfectly well capable of living up to their responsibilities and it is up to them to do so.”

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