COP26, the global climate change gathering of over 26,000 attendees in Glasgow in November, is being delayed until next year, writes Poppy Kettle.
On 1 April, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the government of the United Kingdom confirmed that COP26, November’s crucial global climate summit in Glasgow, will be postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the decision to delay the summit, COP26 president Alok Sharma said: “The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19. That is why we have decided to reschedule COP26. We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference.”
Considering the global health threat posed by the coronavirus, the decision to postpone is sensible. We must save lives and protect the vulnerable during this crisis. Indeed, the Cop26 event was scheduled to be held in Glasgow at the SEC arena, a venue that the Scottish government now plans to turn into a field hospital to treat coronavirus victims.
However, postponing the COP does not mean postponing climate action. The economic stimulus packages being devised must be climate aware so that the increase in emissions that was seen following the 2008 global financial crisis is not repeated. During this unprecedented period, leaders have the opportunity to revise their climate plans to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
Before the pandemic, it was clear that countries did not have the necessary momentum to deliver emissions reductions that would reach the 2050 target. This crisis has shown that concerted international effort is possible in the face of a global threat to human life. Delaying COP26 allows for a renewed and remodelled commitment to achieving a zero-carbon economy which in turn increases the likelihood of a strong outcome from the summit.
Poppy Kettle is a net zero policy executive at the Environmental Industries Commission.