Boris Johnson has warned the climate change “doomsday device is real”, as he opened the Cop26 summit in Glasgow on Monday.
The prime minister told world leaders gathered in Scotland they were in “the same position” as James Bond trying prevent a “detonation that will end human life as we know it”.
“Except that the tragedy is this is not a movie and the doomsday device is real,” he said.
It came as Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, said it was an “illusion” to think the fight against climate change is being won.
Around 120 heads of state and government are attending the talks, where countries are under pressure to increase action in the next decade to tackle dangerous warming.
In his opening speech, Johnson said future generations would judge those present at the summit with “bitterness and with a resentment” if it failed.
“The children who will judge us are children not yet born, and their children,” he said.
“We are now coming centre stage before a vast and uncountable audience of posterity and we must not fluff our lines or miss our cue.
“Because if we fail, they will not forgive us – they will know that Glasgow was the historic turning point when history failed to turn.
“They will judge us with bitterness and with a resentment that eclipses any of the climate activists of today and they will be right.
The conference is seen as the moment when countries must deliver on pledges made in the accord agreed in Paris six years ago, to limit temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to curb warming to 1.5C – beyond which the worst impacts will be felt.
There is also pressure on developed countries to deliver a long-promised 100 billion US dollars a year in climate finance for poorer countries least responsible for and most vulnerable to climate change, and address loss and damage caused by the impacts of global warming.
And there will be efforts to drive action by countries, regions, and businesses to curb emissions in sectors such as power with efforts to phase out coal, as well as finalise parts of the Paris climate accord agreed in 2015 to make it effective and operational.
Countries’ plans for cutting emissions in the next decade – key to limiting long-term temperature rises – leave the world well off track to meet the climate goals and put the planet on course for a dangerous 2.7C of warming.