Governments have agreed to move the COP26 UN climate summit to Nov. 2021 as environmental groups urged the UK hosts and other nations to use the extra time to enhance their climate action plans and to ‘green’ their post-coronavirus recovery efforts.
The decision taken by the UNFCCC’s COP Bureau, Italian ‘pre-COP’ hosts, and the British government at a virtual meeting late Thursday will see the Glasgow conference take place over Nov. 1-12, almost a full year later than the original dates that were pushed back last month.
“With Italy, we can harness the G7 and G20 presidencies to drive climate action and support a clean resilient recovery,” the UK’s COP26 envoy John Murton tweeted, alluding to the fact that the two nations will also host those major conferences among the world’s economic powerhouses next year.
The UK put forth the Nov. 2021 timeline earlier this week, saying the new dates presented the lowest risk of further postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The original timing of the conference this November was billed as a critical point for countries to ramp up their GHG reduction commitments ahead of the Paris Agreement’s 2021 start.
So far, only 10 countries representing 2.9% of global emissions have submitted updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in line with the climate pact’s five-year cycles, according to the think-tank WRI’s Climate Watch platform.
The postponement also means nations will have to endure more delays in agreeing international emissions trading rules under the treaty’s market-based Article 6.
After two straight years of failing to do so at the Katowice and Madrid COPs, experts have viewed the Glasgow summit as the “last chance” to forge an agreement on Paris-era carbon trading.
Environmental groups and civil society organisations noted that the coronavirus scourge necessitated postponing the UN summit, but they called on governments to double down on their efforts to provide a low-carbon recovery from the dual climate and COVID-19 crises.
“By the time we get to COP26, we expect to see governments, tested by the pandemic, guided by the science and prepared to act unequivocally and with unity to end the climate emergency by bringing an end to the age of fossil fuels,” Greenpeace Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said in a statement.
The UN negotiating blocs of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries also called on London to ensure that nations do not ignore climate considerations when jump-starting their economies.
“A delayed COP must not delay climate action,” said Bhutan’s Sonam Wangdi, chair of the LDC Group.
The conference will also now take place a full year after the US presidential election this November, with the country likely to rejoin the Paris Agreement if a Democratic candidate can beat President Donald Trump.
It was not immediately clear if Thursday’s meeting addressed the fate of COP27, which an African country was originally slated to host during the Nov. 2021 timeframe under the UN’s rotating order.
The continent’s climate negotiators had said COP27 should take place in Nov. 2021 as planned, with Ghana putting its name forward as a host candidate.
By Matt Lithgow – email@example.com