London keeps its COP26 “face to face” plan in Glasgow despite COVID-19

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London (AFP)

The United Kingdom confirmed on Friday that the COP26 climate summit, “the last hope” to avoid an uncontrolled rise in global temperature, will be held in person in November in Glasgow, Scotland despite the pandemic.

The Boris Johnson government, determined to become a champion in the fight against climate change, has set high hopes at this meeting, tentatively scheduled for November 2020 and postponed due to the pandemic, and which should bring together leaders from 196 countries, as well as representatives of companies, NGOs and experts.

As a role model, he has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, which will mean a major transformation in the UK economy. It will start reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

In so doing, he hopes to encourage other countries to announce ambitious goals, a diplomatic task that will not be easy for British COP26 President Alok Sharma.

“I have always advocated the need for a conference of the parties face to face (…) so we are planning to hold a summit in person,” he announced this Friday during a speech six months ahead of the scheduled November 1 to 12th.

“We ensure that delegates’ safety is the top priority, ”he said, realizing that although the UK’s health situation has improved a lot, many countries still fear that their representatives will not be able to attend, so some have requested the meeting. Celebrate online.

Sharma said the organizers had promised, working with the United Nations and local authorities, to take measures to ensure the summit was held “in complete safety,” including tests and vaccinations.

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The United Kingdom already last week organized the first direct meeting in two years of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven, a group of the seven largest economies chaired by the British in 2021.

Despite the fact that the Indian Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who had traveled to London to be invited to attend the meeting, had to finally participate online after discovering cases of covid-19 in his delegation, other attendees stressed the importance of face-to-face contacts. To move forward with diplomatic negotiations.

The G7 heads of state and government, including US President Joe Biden, are also scheduled to meet in person in the English region of Cornwall from June 11-13.

– 1.5 ° C “on everyone’s mind” –

Sharma said the Glasgow summit is the “last hope” to limit the increase in global average temperature to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era, the threshold beyond which scientists believe climate change will be out of control.

According to the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by roughly 8% each year to stay within the global increase of 1.5 ° C, which is equivalent to saving the same amount of emissions every year through 2030 as happened during the pandemic.

Environmental organizations praised the British commitment.

“Alok Sharma is absolutely right,” said Kate Blagojevich, climate officer at Greenpeace.

He added, “This goal should be in the minds of all world leaders and serve as a basis for all decisions they make,” calling on countries to intensify their work now.

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However, they have harshly criticized Johnson’s CEO, who, despite great statements, has recently lashed out with some controversial decisions.

“The UK cannot claim climate leadership abroad while the government at home continues to maintain a new coal mine in Cumbria or block British onshore wind energy planning,” Blagojevich said.

For her part, Tracy Carty, climate policy advisor at Oxfam, denounced London’s support for new oil and gas operations in the North Sea.

Sharma also stressed the need to increase climate financing to help vulnerable countries.

“The upcoming G7 summit is a golden opportunity for countries that have not yet done so to announce a significant increase in climate finance until 2025,” said Carty.

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