UK backs plans for in-person COP26 climate meeting

LONDON (AP) – Britain is hoping to host the UN’s delayed COP26 climate summit in person in November, despite challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, the UK official leading preparations said on Friday .

Alok Sharma, UK president-designate of COP26, said “all possible measures” were under consideration to see how the talks could go safely, including involving COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

In less than six months, delegates from around the world are due to arrive in Glasgow for the annual United Nations climate conference.

The summit was originally scheduled for November 2020, but the pandemic forced it to be postponed for a year. A year later, there are still issues and limits on international travel remain in place.

“For me, it is vital that developing countries can sit at the same table, face to face with the big countries, the big emitters,” said Sharma. “The desire (for an in-person summit) is what I’ve heard loud and clear from governments and communities around the world.”

Sharma said the world has not done “almost enough” to meet the emissions reduction commitments of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The treaty aims to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.

The President-designate said COP26 was the “last hope” to deliver on this pledge.

“We have come to the moment of truth,” said Sharma. “This is our last hope to keep 1.5 degrees alive, our best chance for a better future. the future of green jobs and clean air.

“I have no doubts that the world’s leaders will rise to the occasion and are sure to have a date with fate.”

Climate activists around the world have remained skeptical of their governments’ efforts to abide by the Paris agreement, but in April some of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters set their latest greenhouse gas reduction targets. their carbon production.

Sharma also said he hoped the conference would be the time when coal power is left “in the past where it belongs”.

“The science is clear that in order to keep 1.5 degrees alive, coal must be gone,” said Sharma, calling on the Group of 7 countries to lead the way and support developing countries in their transitions to cleaner energy. .

Having previously refused to intervene, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened in March in plans to build a new coal mine in Cumbria, in the north-west of England. Local government secretary Robert Jenrick has ordered a public inquiry, to be held in September, less than two months before COP26, which will take place November 1-12.


This story corrects the day Sharma spoke on Friday.


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