Cop26: All the most embarrassing gaffes and cringe moments that happened at the climate conference

Cop26: All the most embarrassing gaffes and cringe moments that happened at the climate conference

It was organised for leaders to discuss ways in which to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gases.

But while countries have signed up to some landmark pledges and key agreements, Conference of the Parties, or Cop26, will also be remembered because of how embarrassing some of our world leaders and public figures can be.

Naps, problems with understanding geography, even farts (yes really), Cop26 had it all and boy does it make us proud to be human.

Here’s a look at some of the stand out gaffes and moments that really made us cringe.

America is confused by British geography

America lived up to its stereotype of struggling with the UK map this conference when CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer got sent to and announced he was reporting from Edinburgh, despite the conference very much taking place in Glasgow.

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Twitter had a field day and Blitzer was probably left red-faced but it was an amusing way to start the conference.

America is confused by British geography: The sequel

Barack Obama speaks at the Cop26 climate summit in GlasgowBarack ObamaPA

Another victim of the world map was one Barack Obama, who claimed he was in the “Emerald Isles” – which is how some people describe Ireland, not Scotland, while he was in Scotland, not Ireland.

Quoting William Shakespeare’s Othello, the former US president said: “Since we’re here in the Emerald Isles, let me quote the bard. What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

“Our planet has been wounded by our actions - those wounds won’t be healed today, or tomorrow, or the next, but they can be healed by degrees.

“If we start with that spirit and each of us can fight through the occasional frustration and dread, if we pledge to do our part and then follow through on those commitments, I believe we can secure a better future. We have to.

“And what a profound and noble task to set for ourselves.

“I’m ready for the long haul if you are, so let’s get to work.’

Oh dear.

Biden allegedly lets one rip in front of royalty

At a climate conference aimed in part at stopping the emission of dangerous gases, Joe Biden reportedly emitted some gas of his own by farting in front of Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall,

A source told The Mail on Sunday that the fart was “loud an impossible to ignore” and that she “hasn’t stopped talking about” the incident since.

Politicians are often accused of being full of hot air, but this is ridiculous.

World leaders fly to climate conference

Last week, Johnson was criticised after he took a private jet from the summit to London, reportedly to have dinner with some friends from his journalism days. In October, he also flew to Cornwall.

In a statement to indy100, a No 10 spokesperson said that travel decisions were made “with consideration for security and time restraints,” adding: “The prime minister travelled on one of the most carbon-efficient planes of its size in the world, using the most sustainable aviation fuel possible. The UK will be offsetting all carbon emissions associated with running COP26 including travel.”

Still, not the best look.

World leaders fall asleep

Saving the planet, one nap at a time, Johnson and Biden were both photographed during the conference with their eyes closed like a university student struggling through a 9am lecture after a night out.

A No 10 source told The Mirror it was “total nonsense” to suggest Johnson was asleep and other photos thankfully showed him with his eyes open.

Again, not the best look.

Boris Johnson’s mask row

Another Johnson gaffe was when he was photographed next to national treasure and – let’s face it, old man – David Attenborough, without a mask.

Quizzed by CNN about it after photos of the incident went viral, Johnson said: “I’ve been wearing a mask in confined spaces with people that I don’t normally meet and I think it’s up to people to make a judgment on whether they’re at a reasonable distance from someone and whether they’re with someone they don’t normally meet. That’s the approach we take.”

Boris Johnson turns up late

When he wasn’t breathing on Attenborough, Johnson was running behind schedule.

The prime minister delivered his speech half an hour late on day one of the conference with suggestions it was because US Biden – having landed in Edinburgh around 11am – had not reached his seat on time.

Happens to the best of us!

Climate conference derailed by Tory sleaze

Despite it being about, you know, saving the world from climate change, rampant accusations of government corruption and sleaze shoved that priority to one side and Johnson was forced to talk about the thorny sleaze issue after his closing speech yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, the PM said: “I genuinely believe that the UK is not remotely a corrupt country, and I genuinely think that our institutions are not corrupt.

“We have a very, very tough system of parliamentary democracy and scrutiny, not least by the media.

“I think what you have got is cases where, sadly, MPs have broken the rules in the past, may be guilty of breaking the rules today. What I want to see is them facing appropriate sanctions.”

“No drama Sharma”

Cop president and Tory minister Alok Sharma had people gritting their teeth with embarrassment on the penultimate day of the event after claiming he is known as “no drama Sharma”.

Asked about previous comments saying we would have near-final texts of climate change agreements by now, and questioned if he was trying to cause a moment of drama by pushing deals into the future, the minister replied: “I think people have sometimes described me as no drama Sharma,” and just like that secured his status as a David Brent incarnate.


That’s a wrap. Until Cop27, if we make it that far!

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