Sir David Attenborough, world-renowned broadcaster and natural historian, has been named COP26 People’s Advocate for the U.K.’s Presidency of the UN climate change summit in Glasgow this November.
With six months to go before the U.K. brings world leaders together for key climate talks, the passionate conservationist is tasked with putting forward the 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 decision makers will need to take ahead of and at COP26.
"Sir David Attenborough has already inspired millions of people in the U.K. and around the world with his passion and knowledge to act on climate change and protect the planet for future generations,” said U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “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.”
Attenborough, 95, will address world leaders at major international events over the next six months, including the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June, to firmly put climate and the protection of nature at the top of their agenda, and he has also been invited to address world leaders and the public at the Glasgow Summit — dubbed the most important climate meeting since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
"There could not be a more important moment that we should have international agreement,” said Attenborough, in reference to his appointment. "The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems. 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.”
The appointment comes as Alok Sharma, the Indian-origin Cabinet-level minister as Britain's President-Designate of COP26, urges governments, international organisations, businesses, and civil society to accelerate bold pledges ahead of the summit to put the world on a path to net zero emissions by mid-century.
"Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity and the stakes could not be higher for our planet. The next decade will be make, or break, for cutting global emissions sufficiently to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” said Sharma. “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."
As hosts of COP26, the U.K. says it is leading by example by investing in a green recovery from the pandemic, which creates sustainable jobs and addresses the urgent and linked challenges of public health, climate change, and biodiversity loss.