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COP26: Boris Johnson faces backlash for failing to wear mask while sitting next to Sir David Attenborough

Written by on 3 November 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a backlash after he was pictured not wearing a face covering while sitting next to 95-year-old broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at COP26.

Some photos also show Mr Johnson sitting maskless next to 72-year-old UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres during the opening of the crucial climate summit on Monday.

Although Mr Johnson is seen wearing a mask in other photos taken at the same event.

Shadow Trade Minister Bill Esterson tweeted: “Boris Johnson chose not to wear a mask sat next to David Attenborough at #COP26 Attenborough is 95 and is at a very high risk from COVID.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough Image: Mr Johnson was criticised by MPs on Twitter for not wearing a mask at the event Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, British prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough Image: Some pictures from the same event did show the PM wearing a facemask

“Wearing a mask protects other people yet Johnson couldn’t be bothered to protect Attenborough from COVID. Says it all about Johnson.”

Labour MP Anna McMorrin also tweeted: “It’s one thing to show how little you care but quite another [to] sit next to 95 year old David Attenborough and NOT wear a MASK.”

Mr Johnson and other senior Tories have received criticism for not wearing face masks in the House of Commons in recent weeks, despite high COVID cases in the UK.

Asked about the controversy by CNN, Mr Johnson fluffed his answer before saying: “I’ve been wearing masks in confined spaces with people I don’t normally talk to… it’s up to people to take a judgment whether they’re at a reasonable distance from someone… that’s the approach we take.”

A Downing Street spokesman told the Daily Mirror: “The prime minister has abided by the COVID guidance at COP throughout.

“As you know attendees and delegates are not required to wear face masks when they are seated as per the guidance and he will continue to abide by all the rules that are in place while he’s up in Glasgow.”

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Earlier, Mr Johnson said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for a deal to curb global warming at the talks.

On the second day of the COP26 summit, he welcomed a series of announcements by the assembled leaders on deforestation and emissions.

But he stressed there was still a long way to go if they were to get an agreement that would keep alive the prospect set out in the Paris Agreement of restricting world temperature rises to 1.5C.

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3:11 ‘This is life or death for millions’

Ahead of the summit, Mr Johnson suggested that humanity was 5-1 down at half-time in the battle against climate change.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, he said: “We’ve pulled back a goal, or perhaps even two, and I think we are going to be able to take this thing to extra-time, because there’s no doubt that some progress has been made.”

He added that while the “doomsday clock is still ticking”, they now had a bomb disposal team on site and “they’re starting to snip the wires – I hope some of the right wires”.

For full coverage of COP26 watch Climate Live on Sky channel 525.

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