Boris Johnson's bizarre response to Attenborough mask furore

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for not wearing a mask while sitting next to a British icon at the UN climate summit in Glasgow.

At the opening ceremony of the COP26, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was seated next to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and "national treasure" Sir David Attenborough.

With both men seated next to him, wearing face masks, Mr Johnson is completely maskless.

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres, British PM Boris Johnson and  Sir David Attenborough at COP26, Glasgow. Source: Getty Images
A sleepy Boris Johnson failed to wear a face mask while sitting next to Sir David Attenborough. Source: Getty Images

People were furious with the PM, some saying he should be "ashamed" of himself on social media.

"Attenborough is 95 and is at a very high risk from Covid," UK politician Bill Esterson tweeted.

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

In an interview with CNN's Christine Amanpour, Mr Johnson was questioned as to why he wasn't wearing a mask while seated.

"I've been wearing a mask, when in confined spaces with people that I don't normally meet," he said.

"It's up to people to take a judgment whether they're at a reasonable distance from someone ...that's the approach we take."

Attenborough's optimistic speech at COP26

Mr Attenborough gave leaders at the UN climate summit in Glasgow a brief lesson on the fragility of the planet and humanity's dependence on the natural world.

The 95-year-old documentary-maker, who was announced at Monday's ceremonial opening as the "people's advocate," spoke ahead of presidents and prime ministers from more than 100 countries.

Attenborough said for much of humanity's existence, the climate on Earth had swung wildly before stabilising 10,000 years ago, allowing human civilisations to flourish.

"The stability we all depend on is breaking," he told the summit.

Attenborough said the action necessary to curb greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would prevent dangerous global warming is possible, if countries move quickly and decisively.

"We are, after all, the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth," he said. "If working apart, we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet.

"Surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it."

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