The main talks that were to be discussed at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow later this year have been postponed as governments around the world fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, spewing a new one. uncertainty in talks to tackle global warming.
With the world currently on the road to a catastrophic rise in temperature, the two-week summit, known as COP26, was aimed at spurring a renewed international commitment to the agreement negotiated in Paris in 2015 with the goal of stabilizing Earth's climate. .
According to Reuters, the British hosts and other countries struggling to contain the pandemic coronavirus, which has stopped large sectors of the world economy, decided to delay the summit to give governments more time to prepare.
"We will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to achieve the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference," said British Business Minister Alok Sharma, who will serve as COP26 chair.
A parallel summit on the preservation of endangered species, due to be held in Kunming, China, in October, was also postponed to next year, a UN official said.
European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans said the bloc remained committed to the Paris Agreement process and launching a Green Deal to decarbonize its economy in December.
"As for the European Commission, we will not slow down our work at the national or international level to prepare for an ambitious COP26, when it takes place," Timmermans said in a statement.
With financial markets in crisis, hopes that 2020 will provide a crucial year for climate diplomacy and action to reverse accelerating extinctions of plant, animal and insect species have quickly faded.
However, some investors, diplomats and activists welcomed the postponement, saying it could buy governments time to prepare for a more successful outcome than might be possible in the face of a pandemic.
"A delay gives UK hosts and other governments the ability to ensure that sufficient diplomatic momentum is built before COP26," said Stephanie Pfeifer, executive director of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a European fund group. pension and asset managers primarily with over £ 26 trillion of assets under management.
The climate diplomacy chessboard could also change significantly ahead of a 2021 summit, depending on the outcome of this year's talks between the European Union and China, and the November 3 US presidential election.
President Donald Trump, a Republican, began removing the United States, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, from the Paris Agreement deal last year.
If a Democratic presidential candidate wins the White House, climate diplomats say many countries are more likely to pursue bolder climate plans before the United States rejoins.
A postponement could also allow for a potential shift in emphasis at the summit to align economic stimulus packages launched to cushion the impact of the pandemic with broader climate goals, diplomats said.
"COP26 next year should become a centerpiece of revitalized global cooperation," said Laurence Tubiana, a former French diplomat who was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Agreement.
Climate campaign groups had expressed concern that even if Britain had managed to contain the coronavirus in November, many developing countries could be fighting the outbreaks.
The summit planned for November was supposed to have been a deadline for countries to make more ambitious pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the terms of the Paris Agreement.
Existing commitments are not close enough to avoid accelerating the impacts of droughts, sea level rise, floods, wildfires and other disasters that could put the survival of industrial societies at risk, the officials said. scientists.
So far, only a few countries have made new pledges.
Japan, a major backer of coal-fired power, came under fire from activists this week when it presented a pledge that stuck to a five-year-old climate goal.