The UK is planning on host the COP26 UN climate negotiations as an in-person summit in Glasgow in November and is considering various ways of ensuring protection against the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting’s president Alok Sharma said on Friday.
His statement comes amid on-going safety concerns arising from the pandemic alongside pressure from smaller, poorer nations to hold the once-delayed annual meeting in-person.
“For me, it is vital that developing nations are able to sit at the same table, face-to-face, with the larger countries, the big emitters,” said Sharma, speaking at ScottishPower’s Whitelee onshore windfarm some 20 kilometres outside Glasgow.
“So we are planning for a physical summit, where ensuring the safety of delegates and the local community will be paramount,” he added.
He noted that the government was considering various measures to keep the meeting COVID-free, including testing and vaccines, and would share its plans “in due course”.
COP26 organisers have yet to make a formal proposal about a vaccination drive for delegates, though one source told the Financial Times the issue might prove “too politically explosive and sensitive”.
Organisers are closely watching the July Tokyo Olympic Games, which has struck a deal with vaccine manufacturer BioNTech/Pfizer to supply doses to all delegations.
Prospects for an in-person meeting are likely to be welcomed by campaigners and diplomats keen to secure an ambitious outcome on a raft of outstanding issues underpinning the Paris Agreement, climate finance for vulnerable nations, and finalising the Article 6 rulebook on international emissions trade.
“We must find a solution on carbon markets,” Sharma said, adding that issues also needed to be resolved on transparent reporting of emissions and finance and around a common timeframe for setting national emissions pledges.
There has been a broad consensus among those nations pushing for an ambitious agreement, business groups, and environmental campaigners that a virtual summit would increase the likelihood of any eventual agreement being watered down.
Observers fear that online talks would disadvantage developing nations and lock out the civil society groups that traditionally attend the two-week event that can see upwards of 40,000 people attending.
Key developments for carbon markets in the run-up to Glasgow include:
- Ministers from Singapore and Japan have been appointed to steer Article 6 talks through a July ministerial-level meeting.
- The Paris Article 6 rulebook for international emissions trade aims to agree outstanding issues including treatment of the rapidly growing voluntary carbon market and what happens to the CDM, which was created under the predecessor Kyoto Protocol.
- The COVID-related one-year postponement of COP26 led officials to suspend CDM issuances, with some fearing double claiming of the offsets generated in developing countries, which for the first time have adopted emissions goals under Paris starting in January.
By Ben Garside – email@example.com