David Attenborough, one of Britain’s most trusted public figures and one of the world’s most recognized voices for Earth’s natural beauty, implored leaders to use the COP26 summit as a climate tipping point, creating a world more fair in the process.
The naturalist, whose storytelling seriousness has focused attention on the health of the planet for decades, was one of the first speakers at Monday’s conference alongside world leaders and climate activists.
“If working separately we are a force powerful enough to destabilize our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it,” said Attenborough, 95.
In his nature documentaries, Mr. Attenborough has guided viewers to the most beautiful corners of the planet, with his soft but commanding voice a comforting presence. But his work has never shied away from politically thorny environmental issues, and he often speaks directly on the major risks of climate change and the actions needed to address it.
On Monday, he focused his comments on the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, a measure that he said “defines our relationship with our world.” In the past 10,000 years, as the number stabilized, he said, civilization became possible and humans took advantage.
But he warned that this stability was now threatened.
“Perhaps the fact that the people most affected by climate change are no longer an imagined future generation, but the young people living today, perhaps that will give us the impetus we need to rewrite our history,” he said.