When Sir David Attenborough speaks, people listen.
Whether that’s the 88% of people who changed their lifestyle after watching Blue Planet II, or the Queen deciding to ban plastic straws from Buckingham Palace years ahead of the UK’s national rules coming into force, the 94-year-old documentarian has got into our heads.
So when he says “it’s too late” to avoid climate change, it should be taken seriously.
Attenborough's warning came during a speech on Tuesday to the United Nations' Security Council (UNSC) — a group of 15 world leaders responsible for world peace.
He was invited to speak by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who chaired this month’s session. It was the first ever time the UNSC had devoted its meeting to the security risks posed by the climate emergency.
Of the 15 council members, five have permanent seats: the UK, the US, China, France, and Russia.
Attenborough’s grave intervention came the same day the head of the UK’s Environment Agency said the world was already hitting “worst case scenario” levels on the climate crisis. Without more action, he said that ecosystems everywhere face catastrophe.
It’s a big year for climate. In November, the most significant international climate conference since the Paris Agreement — called COP26 — is being hosted by the UK government in Glasgow, Scotland. If the world is going to get back on track, this will be a vital moment for action.
"The UNSC is tasked with confronting the gravest threats to global peace and security, and that's exactly what climate change represents,” Johnson said at the meeting. "Unlike many issues the council deals with, this is one we know exactly how to address."
He added: "By helping vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and cutting global emissions to net zero, we will protect not only the bountiful biodiversity of our planet, but its prosperity and security."
Sir David Attenborough just told world leaders that "it’s too late to avoid climate change." He said that the poorest "are now certain to suffer."— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) February 24, 2021
Full story here 👉 https://t.co/bBxfpL1ge6#UNSCpic.twitter.com/5KAx89pw8i
Attenborough urged the council to recognise the threat of the climate crisis to global security, question existing economic models, and put a value on nature beyond money.
He said this may very well be our last chance. Although it’s impossible to now avoid climate change, the broadcaster insisted that if the world came together now, a healthy balance was still possible.
Here are some of the key points to highlight from his message to world leaders.