Government says climate summit to go ahead as planned amid fears of Covid delay

A Crucial climate change summit is due to go ahead in Britain as planned, the Government said tonight amid fears it could be postponed for a second time.

The United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, COP26, was due to be held in Glasgow last November but was shelved for 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Claims emerged today that even the delayed date was in doubt, or the summit could face a radical overhaul.

However, a Government spokesman said: “We are working on the basis of COP26 being held in person this November, while closely monitoring the Covid situation.

“The summit team is working closely with all partners and exploring what different scenarios might mean for COP26 and how we plan for that, whilst putting the health of the participants and the local community first.

“We are not looking to postpone the summit.”

Asked whether it would be postponed or scaled down, a No10 source said: “I’ve seen nothing at all to suggest that.”

When reports first suggested the summit was in jeopardy, the Lib Dems were quick to warn of the impact of a second delay.

COP26 President Alok Sharma
COP26 President Alok Sharma

The party’s climate emergency Wera Hobhouse said: “Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government for immediate clarification over the potential delay to COP26.

“It is deeply unfair to leave developing nations in the lurch with so many conflicting reports about the future of the COP.

“The strongest efforts must be made to keep the COP on track for this year to ensure more time is not lost in the fight against the climate crisis.

“If another delay to the spring is unavoidable, then the Conservative Government must guarantee that developing nations and NGOs (non-governmental organisations, such as charities) have the same access to the negotiations as usual.”

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: “We appreciate how important face-to-face meetings are during negotiations, but what is absolutely essential is that we stop delaying these vital talks and start the process of ensuring global emissions are reduced as quickly as possible.

“We would urge the Government to start preparing now to make sure it can still be held this year, even if that means a limited number of personal meetings, with good ventilation and social distancing, combined with online meetings.

“This would enable the conference to take place in November – already a year later than scheduled.

“However, it is vital that we avoid any situation that further marginalises those countries who are most at risk from the climate crisis as they are the ones on the frontline of the battle against climate change.

“If there must be limits on numbers then we call on the Government now to set out how it will prioritise those most at risk.”


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