The United Nations (UN) climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, has been postponed as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus, the UN and UK government have confirmed in a joint statement.
The twenty-sixth conference of the parties (COP26) has been delayed to next year, but a new date has not been announced yet.
“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,” UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said.
At COP26, governments are expected to scale up their ambition to curb carbon emissions, following on from the Paris accord of 2015, which marked the first time that rich and poor countries came together resolving to hold global warming to no more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The UK was reportedly hoping for global leaders to pledge to hit net zero carbon by 2050.
“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,” said UN climate change executive secretary Patricia Espinosa.
She expressed hope that, when economies restart following the Covid-19 crisis, they would choose to recover for the better. “This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the twenty-first-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.”
As short term priorities shift, the Scottish Events Campus, where COP26 was due to take place, is being turned into a temporary medical facility to boost capacity during the coronavirus crisis.
Globally, there are more than 950 000 confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have soared past 48 000.