THE COP26 climate change summit has been delayed for a full year until November 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The annual UN Conference of Parties (COP) summit on climate change was originally due to take place in Glasgow, UK, in November 2020, with pre-COP events to be held by co-host Italy in September and October. The summit was previously postponed to Spring 2021 as travel restrictions due to Covid-19 hindered preparations; however it has now been further postponed until 1–12 November 2021.
The new date means the G7 summit, hosted by the UK, and the G20 summit, hosted by Italy, will take place before COP26, potentially allowing the COP hosts to push climate crisis policies prior to the event.
Alok Sharma, COP26 President, said: “While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change. With the new dates for COP26 now agreed we are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021. The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean, resilient recovery.”
Despite the delay until next year, signatories of the Paris Agreement are still expected to submit their new or updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs), showing increased ambitions on meeting climate goals, by the end of this year. Mary Stewart, CEO of energy consultancy Energetics, and a member of IChemE’s climate change task group, commented that the finalisation of the rulebook for the Paris Agreement was supposed to occur at COP26, but it is possible that with ongoing negotiations behind the scenes it may get agreed upon prior to the event and then just need to be formalised.
Stewart said: “COPs typically catalyse announcements and commitments from countries and companies. Instead we will have to see how considerations of climate change are addressed in the COVID-19 recovery programmes of countries around the world. Now is the time for bold actions, and smart companies and countries will use the massive investments we are going to see over the next year wisely, to set them up for mid-century success.
“What we are missing out on is the impetus that COPs typically bring to global action. COP26 was badged as the COP of ambition, challenging countries to increase their commitments to emissions reductions and to helping developing countries as they adapt to the changes in the weather. “
John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said: “The climate summit can be delayed, but dealing with the climate emergency cannot. The Covid pandemic has shown just how badly we need international cooperation and political leadership, and the same holds true for tackling the climate crisis.”
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