The novel coronavirus pandemic has delayed by a year the global talks aimed at addressing the threat of climate breakdown. The United Nations has said that the talks will now be held in November 2021.
Cop26, the official name of the global climate summit was expected to be attended by 196 nations and will not happen in Glasgow from November 1 to 12 next year. The United Kingdom will be the host and president of the summit next year. The summit was originally planned to be held from 9 November this year.
According to reports, date prior to November next year were thought to be too difficult as the UN anticipated that travel restrictions could still be in place in some countries even next year. Additionally, the schedule of other major international environmental meetings, including global talks on the biodiversity crisis, also complicated the efforts of finding a new date.
“While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change. We are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021. Everyone will need to raise their ambitions to tackle climate change,” said Alok Sharma, UK business secretary and Cop26 president.
Since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, Cop26 has turned out to be the most important international meeting on the climate change threats. The Paris agreement mandated that countries needed to return back to the summit every five years and present their revised plans over reducing emission of greenhouse gases according to the target that was accepted at the Paris summit in relation to limiting global heating to no more than 2C, and preferably no more than 1.5C.
Scientists have warned that the at the current level of global warming, and the current level of national level targets of green house gas emissions would take the global temperature to at least 3C above pre-industrial levels. Therefore need for more stringent emission reduction measures are being demanded.
According to the timetable, those emission-cutting targets – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – should be put forward this year, even though the meeting itself has been delayed. The UK has not yet submitted its NDC, but has pledged to do so before Cop26.
The delay has been supported by many developing countries and civil society groups. They however also called on governments to present plans for a green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis so that the Paris goals can be met.
The two were also linked together by Patricia Espinosa, the UN climate chief. “Our efforts to address climate change and Covid-19 are not mutually exclusive. If done right, the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable path,” Espinosa said.
“The postponement of climate negotiations should not be taken as postponement of climate action. Climate action has been delayed long enough … To focus on recovering from the Covid-19 crisis while ignoring action to address the climate crisis would only lead to more devastation in the future,” said Sonam Wangdi, from the Kingdom of Bhutan, who chairs the Least Developed Countries group at the UN climate talks.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)