The COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to COVID-19.
This decision has been taken by representatives of the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with the UK and its Italian partners.
Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021 will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties.
In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 has become impossible.
The UK government said that rescheduling will ensure “all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place”.
COP26 President-Designate and UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 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.”
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.
“Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”
Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Sergio Costa, stated: “Whilst we have decided to postpone COP26, including the Pre-COP and ‘Youth for the Climate’ event, we remain fully committed to meeting the challenge of climate change.
“We will continue to work with our British partners to deliver a successful COP26.”
Luke Murphy, Head of the Environmental Justice Commission at UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research, said the decision to postpone COP26 was the right one. “Right now, governments around the world need to be focused on the crisis in front of them and acting in concert to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.”
However he added that “when the UK, like other countries, begins to plan for the economic recovery, it must ensure it is a clean recovery. One that is built on low carbon infrastructure and that delivers an economy that is more resilient to future crises and fairer for all.”
“The UK government must also set more ambitious interim climate targets for 2030 and use its influence as COP host to encourage other nations to do the same.”