COP26 president ‘planning for a physical summit’

Alok Sharma said that every possible Covid security measure is being explored.

COP26 president ‘planning for a physical summit’ PA Media

The president of the UN’s climate change conference has said that “every possible Covid security measure” will be explored as he confirmed plans for a physical meeting in Glasgow.

Alok Sharma said that testing, vaccines and other measures would be utilised in order to keep the COP26 summit free from the virus.

Mr Sharma, who was appointed as president of COP26 in February and was previously the UK business secretary, made the remarks in a speech delivered online on Friday.

Speaking at Whitelee wind farm outside of Glasgow, he said: “For me, it is vital that developing countries are able to sit at the same table, face-to-face, with the larger countries, the big emitters. I have always championed the need for a physical COP.

“The desire for one is what I’ve been hearing loud and clear from governments and communities around the world.

“So we are planning for a physical summit, where ensuring the safety of delegates and the local community will be paramount.”

Mr Sharma continued: “Along with our colleagues in the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, Public Health bodies and the UN, we are exploring every possible Covid security measure.

“And that includes testing, vaccines and other measures to keep COP26 Covid free.

“In due course, we will share our plans so that delegates coming to Glasgow, and indeed the whole of the British public, have confidence in COP26 going ahead safely.”

In his speech, Mr Sharma pledged that talks at the summit in November must consign coal power to history, and said that keeping to 1.5C of warming is critical.

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said that Mr Sharma should “get the UK Government’s house in order before lecturing others”.

He continued: “Coal is already in rapid decline and very low hanging fruit when it comes to climate policy – it drove down emissions in Scotland a decade ago, but we need to be looking beyond that now.”

Mr Ruskell added: “If you want to pick the planet, you need to pick where you invest public funds, and Alok Sharma’s government is not investing in the alternatives.

“Without putting his money where his mouth his, today’s speech is nothing more than hot air.”

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