Speaking at the opening of a key climate summit, Mr Johnson reaffirmed his commitments to bring about a “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution” and to slash the UK’s emissions by 68 per cent by 2030.
The prime minister also called for the world to harness “scientific advances to protect our entire planet against a challenge far more destructive even than coronavirus”.
He said: “Together, we can reduce our emissions. We can radically cut our dependence on fossil fuels. We can change our agricultural practices.
“In short, we can reverse the process by which, for centuries, humanity has been quilting our planet in a toxic tea cosy of greenhouse gases.”
He also repeated pledges to make the UK “the Saudia Arabia of wind power” and to ramp up the retrofitting of Britain’s home in order to tackle emissions.
The UK is co-hosting the virtual climate action summit today alongside France and the UN.
Held on the five-year anniversary of the historic Paris Agreement, the summit will likely see world leaders making ambitious new pledges to tackle the climate crisis.
The bill for the summit features the leaders of countries including France, Chile, Italy, India and China, as well as the Pope, Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
Mr Johnson’s words come on the same day that the UK has submitted its first-ever international climate plan, known as a “nationally determined contribution”, to the UN. Countries are required to submit plans detailing how they will cut emissions under the Paris Agreement.
The plan confirms Mr Johnson’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas pollution by at least 68 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels, which was first made on 3 December. The UK has not submitted a plan before it was previously covered by the EU’s international climate plan.
It follows the news that the UK government plans to end overseas investment in fossil fuel projects as soon as possible, which was first announced on Friday evening.
The policy will apply to oil, fossil gas and coal, but there will be limited exceptions for gas-fired power plants and other projects.
There is no date for the change to come into force, but ministers said they wanted it to be before the UK hosts the Cop26 climate conference in November next year.
Reacting to the news on Friday evening, experts said the government had “finally seen sense”, but warned the change had to be matched by greater action on climate change at home.
Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said that “ending our hypocritical position on fossil fuels financing is a basic prerequisite for being a credible host of Cop26”.
“Now ministers need to concentrate on an ambitious agreement in Glasgow which meets the goals of the Paris Accord to limit global warming to 1.5C,” he added.