Sir David Attenborough has warned that climate change has been “swept off the front pages” by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 94-year-old broadcaster called for a renewed focus on the issue and suggested the outbreak could result in increased co-operation between the nations of the world.

“The trouble is that right now the climate issue is also seen as being rather in the distant future because we’ve got the virus to think about,” he said during an appearance on the So Hot Right Now podcast.

Sir David added: “What the result of coronavirus is going to be I don’t know. But I’m beginning to get a feeling that for the first time the nations of the world are beginning to see that survival depends on co-operation. If that happens, that’s going to be a first in human history.”

He also praised climate activist Greta Thunberg, 17, for galvanising the youth and following the science. “I think she’s very remarkable,” he said. “And what is more she is, with all that power, she is nonetheless extremely modest. “She is extremely well informed. But she’s also very modest. And she keeps saying: Look, the only guide has to be the science, we must follow what the science says.”

Sir David is the first guest to appear on the podcast about communication and climate change and his episode will be available from Tuesday.