The National:

A NEW UN report has laid out in unequivocal terms the threats posed by the climate crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a stark picture, warning the world will reach or exceed temperature rises of 1.5C over the next two decades.

Temperature rises will continue – and without fast, deep reductions in greenhouse gases, will exceed both the 1.5C and 2C limits set by countries in the Paris climate treaty.

Politicians say Cop26 in Glasgow this year could be the world’s “last chance” to avert catastrophe, though scientists warn some of the changes are already irreversible.

READ MORE: 'Code red for humanity': UN report ramps up pressure to act on climate crisis

The UN summit is being hosted by the UK Government, led by Boris Johnson.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has a somewhat sketchy record on global warming.

While he has vowed to “build back greener” from the pandemic, the PM has a habit of making eyebrow-raising comments about the climate crisis.

Here we look back at five comments that could come back to haunt him…

1. January 2010

Johnson found an unlikely ally in the form of climate change denier and conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn, elder brother of former Labour leader Jeremy.

Piers Corbyn has claimed leading climate scientists are “wrong” about global warming, arguing changes in temperature are caused by the sun, not by man-made CO2 emission.

Johnson wrote an article in the Telegraph promoting the work of Piers Corbyn, “meteorologist and brother of my old chum, bearded leftie MP Jeremy”.

The Tory hailed the supposed accuracy of Piers Corbyn’s weather forecasts, claiming they are right “85% of the time”.

The National: Conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn Conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn

READ MORE: UN report sets out stark reality of climate crisis – these are the key findings

“I have not a clue whether his methods are sound or not. But when so many of his forecasts seem to come true, and when he seems to be so consistently ahead of the Met Office, I feel I want to know more,” Johnson wrote, before giving consideration to Corbyn’s denialist theories.

“Piers Corbyn believes that the last three winters could be the harbinger of a mini ice age that could be upon us by 2035, and that it could start to be colder than at any time in the last 200 years. He goes on to speculate that a genuine ice age might then settle in, since an ice age is now cyclically overdue.

“The question is whether anthropogenic global warming is the exclusive or dominant fact that determines our climate, or whether Corbyn is also right to insist on the role of the Sun. Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world? The sun is incomparably vaster and more powerful than any work of man.”

2. January 2013

Johnson was back at it three years later. In another Telegraph column, he wrote: “As a species, we human beings have become so blind with conceit and self-love that we genuinely believe that the fate of the planet is in our hands — when the reality is that everything, or almost everything, depends on the behaviour and caprice of the gigantic thermonuclear fireball around which we revolve.

“I am all for theories about climate change, and would not for a moment dispute the wisdom or good intentions of the vast majority of scientists. But I am also an empiricist; and I observe that something appears to be up with our winter weather, and to call it ‘warming’ is obviously to strain the language.”

Once again, he cited the work of Piers Corbyn.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Sovereign's Parade at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Camberley, which marks the completion of 44 weeks of training for the officer cadets. Picture date: Friday August 6, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should

Johnson continued: “I wish I knew more about what is going on, and why. It is time to consult once again the learned astrophysicist, Piers Corbyn. Now Piers has a very good record of forecasting the weather. He has been bang on about these cold winters. Like JMW Turner and the Aztecs he thinks we should be paying more attention to the sun. According to Piers, global temperature depends not on concentrations of CO2 but on the mood of our celestial orb.”

“Of course it still seems a bit nuts to talk of the encroachment of a mini ice age. But it doesn’t seem as nuts as it did five years ago. I look at the snowy waste outside, and I have an open mind.”

3. December 2015

Johnson voiced his doubts about climate change in even stronger terms in 2015, in a Telegraph column entitled “I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming”.

He wrote: “We may all be sweating in the winter air, but remember, we humans have always put ourselves at the centre of cosmic events.

READ MORE: Cop26 in Scotland is world's last chance to avert disaster, SNP minister warns

“It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money, but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation. There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming.”

4. April 2021

Even since graduating to Number 10, Johnson has not lost his knack of making dubious claims about the climate crisis.

In April, he addressed world leaders in a virtual summit about “building back greener” from the pandemic.

The National: Boris Johnson

In a bizarre attempt to talk up the economic benefits of tackling climate change, he said: "It's vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging.

"What I'm driving at is this is about growth and jobs."

5. July 2021

More recently, the Prime Minister succeeded in offending working-class communities across the UK by joking about Margaret Thatcher’s green legacy.

During a visit to a windfarm off the Aberdeenshire coast, the Tory leader was asked if he would set a deadline for ending fossil fuel extraction.

At this point Johnson thought it would be a good time to crack a funny.

He replied: "Look at what we've done already. We've transitioned away from coal in my lifetime.

"Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we're now moving rapidly away from coal altogether."


The PM was condemned by the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, and even criticised by some of his own MPs.