The UK is proposing that key UN climate talks postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic will be held in November 2021, it has emerged.
In a letter to UN member states, the UK has proposed the Cop26 talks, which were originally due to be held in Glasgow in November 2020, could be moved to November 1-12 2021.
At the beginning of April, an announcement from the UN’s climate body, the UNFCCC, and the UK Government said the summit would be pushed back to 2021 in light of the global pandemic, with dates to be decided.
According to the PA news agency, the proposed dates, which come after wide-ranging consultation, will be decided on by the UNFCCC’s Cop bureau, with discussions on the topic at the bureau’s next meeting on May 28.
Cop26 is the most important round of talks since the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was secured in 2015.
This year marks the date by which countries are expected to come forward with stronger emissions cuts to meet the goals of the deal.
Plans submitted so far put the world on a pathway towards more than 3C of warming, though the Paris Agreement commits countries to curb temperatures to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
But with countries around the world grappling with coronavirus, and many putting citizens in lockdown, governments have prioritised the immediate global health crisis.
Since the pandemic took hold, greenhouse gas emissions have dropped sharply as industry and transport have been curtailed, but experts have warned that pollution will soon bounce back without climate action.
There have been warnings that the climate crisis has not gone away in the face of Covid-19.
And there have been widespread calls on governments to ensure the economy recovery from the pandemic is “green”, investing in areas such as renewables, home insulation, public transport and cycling and tree planting to boost jobs and improve lives.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “The UK’s proposed new dates for COP26 probably make sense given the realities of how Covid-19 is unfolding across the world, but what will surprise some is that despite saying ‘ambition must continue’, the proposal doesn’t specify sticking to the schedule of the Paris Agreement.
“Governments specifically committed in the Paris Agreement to deliver enhanced carbon-cutting pledges, long-term decarbonisation strategies and £81bn per year in financial assistance ‘by 2020’, not ‘by COP26’, and that remains the ambition of the poorest and most vulnerable nations; so we’ll see if this omission in the UK proposal becomes a bone of contention during this week’s discussions.”