COP26 postponed due to coronavirus

2nd April 2020


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The COP26 climate summit set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed until next year due to ongoing fears around coronavirus, the UK government has announced.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said that holding an “an ambitious, inclusive“ COP26 in November 2020 is “no longer possible“ due to the worldwide effects of COVID-19.

This decision has been taken by representatives of the COP Bureau of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UK and its Italian partners.

Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties.

COP26 president Alok Sharma said: “The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19. That is why we have decided to reschedule COP26.

“We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference.“

The postponement will come as a blow to environmental campaigners who had been hoping that November's summit would ramp-up climate action following a disappointing conference last year.

The COP25 summit in 2019 failed to deliver a set of rules for international emission markets beyond 2020, with the US, China, India, Japan and Saudi Arabia thought to have blocked progress.

Approximately 47,314 people have died globally with COVID-19 symptoms at the time of writing, with the pandemic causing major disruption to financial markets and effectively forcing countries to lock down.

Oxfam GB Chief Executive Danny Sriskandarajah said that the decision to postpone the COP26 summit is understandable, but that tackling climate change cannot be paused due to the virus.

“The UK, as host of the summit, must keep global momentum going and cannot miss the opportunity to commit to both a just recovery and a just transition to a greener economy,“ he continued.

Governments are right now showing they are ready to cooperate. They should avoid repeating the same mistakes that were made after the 2008 global financial crisis when stimulus packages caused emissions to rebound.

Image credit / Shutterstock

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