Climate change conference postponed due to COVID-19
April 13, 2020
THE 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to COVID-19.
This decision has been taken by representatives of the COP Bureau of the UN, with the UK and its Italian partners.
Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties.
“In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible,” the organisers said in a statement.
They said rescheduling would ensure all parties could focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place.
But they would continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.
COP26 President-Designate and UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 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.”
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.
“Soon, economies will restart.
“This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.
“In the meantime, we continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement,” Ms Espinosa added.
The Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Sergio Costa, said:
“Whilst we have decided to postpone COP26, including the Pre-COP and ‘Youth for the Climate’ event, we remain fully committed to meeting the challenge of climate change.
“Tackling climate change requires strong, global and ambitious action. Participation from the younger generations is imperative, and we are determined to host the ‘Youth for the Climate’ event, together with the Pre-COP and outreach events.
“We will continue to work with our British partners to deliver a successful COP26.”
The President of COP25, Chile’s Minister of the Environment, Carolina Schmidt, said: “The decision of the Bureau on the postponement of COP26 is unfortunately a needed measure to protect all delegates and observers.
“Our determination is to make sure that the momentum for climate ambition will continue, particularly for the preparation and submissions of new NDCs this year.”
The International Hydropower Association (IHA), an official observer organisation to COP, said it recognised the need for this “unprecedented decision”.
In a statement, IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich said: “Given the present global health and economic situation, the organisers of COP26 have made the right decision to postpone this year’s conference.
“While COVID-19 is our most pressing threat, with the tragic impacts on families everywhere requiring urgent action, we must not lose sight of the existential threat to the planet posed by climate change.
“The tireless efforts currently being deployed to beat Coronavirus show us that, in times of crisis, the seemingly impossible can quickly become possible.”
Mr. Rich continued: “The worldwide response to Covid-19 will rely on government stimulus packages to kickstart national economies.
“These must be in line with the carbon reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement. Investing in clean energy infrastructure will support workers, families and communities today, while helping to secure our planet’s future.
“Governments, business and civil society stakeholders must now consider the policy frameworks required to support the green growth economy and prioritise vital public and private investment in sustainable and renewable energy projects.
“This will mean considering ways to incentivise finance and reduce barriers to development, while ensuring that new projects meet internationally recognised environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance standards.”
He added: “The hydropower sector, the largest contributor to total renewable electricity generation, will continue to play its part in providing climate change solutions.
“Sustainable hydropower will provide affordable, clean energy and will accelerate the adoption of other renewables, while safely managing freshwater supplies and protecting communities against floods and drought.
“Now, more than ever, collaboration and dialogue are needed to advance global sustainable energy and the transformation towards a low-carbon energy future.
“IHA, under the mandate given to us by our members to advance sustainable hydropower, will continue working vigorously with our members and partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle present and future threats.”
The IHA is a non-profit membership organisation that says it is committed to sustainable hydropower.