UN Cop26 climate summit expected to be postponed again

The summit, which was due to take place this November in Glasgow, had been tentatively rescheduled for early 2021 but looks likely to be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic

Louise Boyle
New York
Wednesday 27 May 2020 00:03 BST
Boris Johnson launches the UN Climate Change Conference 2020

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The United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Cop26, is expected to be postponed for a second time due to the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The summit, which was originally scheduled for November 2020 in Glasgow, was tentatively moved to early 2021. However this week, the UK will ask the UN and other countries to consider a longer delay until 1- 12 November 2021, putting the event back an entire year. The final decision will be made by the Cop bureau on 28 May.

The British government believes that ongoing travel restrictions would stymie the conference which involves thousands of participants from 196 nations, according to a letter from the Cabinet office and a report by the Guardian. The idea of a virtual conference has been suggested but there are fears that it would limit the impact of activists pushing for more urgent change.

The UN event is a focal point for geopolitical solutions to tackle climate change with the 2015 Paris Climate Accords among its legacies.

The Paris agreement sets out a framework to slash global greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above preindustrial levels, and at most limit global temperature increase to 2C this century, beyond which the scientific community warns that the consequences of climate change will be catastrophic.

Nearly every nation has signed on to the agreement but few are on track to meet their targets and Cop26 was seen as the moment in which detailed plans would be laid out on how to achieve those goals.

In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the world has around 12 years to limit the worst impacts of climate change, including increased risk of floods, drought, severe weather and extreme heat.

Announcing the first postponement, Cop26 president-designate and UK Business and Energy Secretary 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."

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