David Attenborough named COP26 People’s Advocate

Prasun Sonwalkar

Last updated on May 10, 2021 at 07.41 am

Legendary broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough has been named as the COP26 People’s Advocate for the forthcoming key summit in Glasgow in November, when leading figures from various countries, including the UAE, are expected to accelerate action on climate change.

Attenborough, who turned 95 on Saturday (May 8), will address world leaders and the public ahead of the summit and at Glasgow, officials said. He will remain in the role during the UK’s presidency of the United Nations (UN) summit.

COP (‘Conference of the Parties’) refers to the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the 26th annual session in Glasgow, delegates including heads of state, climate experts, and negotiators are due to come together to agree on coordinated action to tackle climate change.

Attenborough will put forward what officials called a “compelling case” to global leaders, key decision-makers, and the public for why climate action matters, to evidence the progress underway, and to highlight the actions they will need to take ahead of and at COP26.

He will address world leaders at major international events over the next six months, including the G-7 Summit in Cornwall in June, to firmly put climate and the protection of nature at the top of their agenda. He has also been invited to address world leaders and the public at the Glasgow summit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Sir David Attenborough has already inspired millions of people in the UK and around the world with his passion and knowledge to act on climate change and protect the planet for future generations”.

“There is no better person to build momentum for further change as we approach the COP26 climate summit in November. I am hugely grateful to Sir David for agreeing to be our People’s Advocate,” he added.

On being appointed to the role, Attenborough said: “There could not be a more important moment that we should have an international agreement. The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems”.

He added, “But the problems that await us within the next 5 - 10 years are even greater. It is crucial that these meetings in Glasgow, COP26, have success, and that at last, the nations will come together to solve the crippling problems that the world now faces.”

Alok Sharma, who holds the cabinet-level role of president of COP26 in the Johnson government, said: “Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity and the stakes could not be higher for our planet”.

“The next decade will make, or break, for cutting global emissions sufficiently to avoid the worst effects of climate change. That is why I am delighted to be working with Sir David, a hero for our country and our planet, to inspire action ahead of COP26."

Officials said that as hosts of COP26, the United Kingdom (UK) is seeking to lead by example. Guided by science, they added that the UK is investing in a green recovery that creates sustainable jobs and addresses the urgent and linked challenges of public health, climate change, and biodiversity loss.