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COP26 climate summit in Glasgow postponed

The United Nations’ COP26 climate change conference due to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to Covid-19.  

The COP26 climate change conference will now take place in 2021, still to be hosted in Glasgow

In a statement, the UN said holding an “ambitious, inclusive” COP26 in November 2020 was no longer possible in light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of Covid-19.

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

The conference will now be moved to 2021, still to be hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy and with actual dates to be set out in due course.

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.

“In the meantime, we continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement.”

John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, said the decision to postpone the climate talks in Glasgow was inevitable given the health emergency the world is currently facing. but stressed that the climate emergency can’t also be put on hold.

He continued: “The government stimulus packages will hold the key to whether this emergency significantly delays or advances progress on tackling the climate emergency.

“It’s during moments of crisis like this that what is possible starts to dramatically shift. The health of the planet and individual health need to be looked at as a whole. The pandemic has clearly shown that we are all affected and that we can only solve these challenges if we act together as a global community. Neither the pandemic nor the climate crisis stops at national borders. And that without governments, scientists and civil society working together neither Covid-19 nor the climate and nature crisis will be solved.”

His comments echo those of a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, who has warned that Covid-19 could increase pollution long term.

In an article on the university’s website, Gabriel da Silva said air pollution around the world is reducing due to Covid-19’s impact on the global economy, but the eventual recovery could leave our environment worse off and further behind in reducing emissions unless lessons are learnt.

This includes from 2008’s global financial crisis when a brief drop in greenhouse gas emissions was more than offset by a sharp rebound in pollution as the world economy recovered.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.