Climate crisis must remain a top priority after COP26 postponement, MPs say

7th April 2020

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Darren Bromley

Tackling climate change must not slip down the list of priorities for the UK government after the COP26 climate summit was postponed until next year, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) urged ministers to instead use the extra time as an opportunity to ensure that the rescheduled summit delivers even greater success.

The government announced last week that holding an “an ambitious, inclusive“ COP26 in November 2020 was “no longer possible“ due to the worldwide effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, a number of commitments under the Paris Agreement are due this year, such as the enhancement of governments' nationally determined contributions, and the EAC has written to COP26 president Alok Sharma asking what progress the UK has made.

“The decision to postpone COP26 is a sad unfortunate necessity, due to the global impact of coronavirus,“ said committee chair Philip Dunne. “There were a host of challenges ahead to have made COP26 the success it needs to be, given widespread restrictions imposed around the world.

“The extra time can put us in a stronger position to make a lasting success of COP, building stronger alliances with other economies around the world and urge them to do as much as they possibly can to forge a low-carbon future.

Meanwhile, the EAC has launched an inquiry into how British innovation could hold the key to tackling climate change, with an early focus on offshore wind.

The committee has invited written submissions on how the UK can maximise the potential of its offshore wind industry, and will study the challenges it faces in delivering greater capacity.

It said that the UK is likely to exceed the target set out in its third carbon budget, but that innovation will be of greater significance in delivering the fourth and fifth budgets.

“During this inquiry, my committee will be considering a number of different technological innovations and whether the government is grasping this potential and offering the support they need to succeed,“ Dunne said.

“The first area we will be looking at will be offshore wind, which is already contributing significantly to UK electricity generation, and I look forward to learning how we can make an even bigger success of this industry.“

Image credit: iStock

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