Glasgow – The next UN climate conference will be postponed to the coming year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This was announced by the British government. The conference was supposed to take place in Glasgow, Scotland in November.
Now it is to be held there in 2021 – the exact date has not yet been determined. At the top annual climate diplomacy meetings, the states advise on the way to curb greenhouse gas emissions and thus global warming.
In light of the ongoing global effects of COVID-19, it was no longer possible to hold an ambitious UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2020, the reason for the shift was. The decision was made jointly by the UN climate secretariat and the two organizers, Great Britain and Italy.
“The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and states are rightly focusing their efforts to save lives and fight COVID-19,” said Alok Sharma, UK Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy.
The next climate summit is particularly important: Until then, the states should make their climate protection plans more ambitious. In total, they are still far from being sufficient to meet the Paris climate agreement’s goal of 2015 to limit global warming to well below two degrees.
COVID-19 is currently the worst threat to humanity, said UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa. In the long term, however, it is climate change that threatens people. “The economies will soon pick up speed again. It is an opportunity for states to change for the better, involve the most vulnerable in these plans, and shape the 21st-century economy in a way that is clean, green, healthy, safe, and resilient, ”Espinosa said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres supported the postponement of the conference. “When hundreds of thousands of people from COVID-19 get seriously ill and many die, the need to get the virus under control and protect lives is our top priority,” Guterres said in a New York statement. However, the fight against climate change must continue.
Despite the postponement, the EU Commission wants to stick to its schedule and present a new European climate target for 2030 by September. This was announced by Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans in Brussels. Currently, the EU wants to bring greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The commission wants to raise the brand to 50 to 55 percent, but first carefully examine the effects.
Timmermans said diplomacy is currently being hampered by the coronavirus crisis. The decision to postpone the event had been made so that the conference did not fall short of expectations due to the lack of participation. “That makes sense,” he said.
The environmental protection organizations Greenpeace and BUND also expressed understanding for the shift but warned not to lose sight of climate protection. “”If economic stimulus programs are now put in place to make up for the economic damage caused by the pandemic, this money can be used to create secure jobs and at the same time create a climate-friendly and sustainable economy,” commented Greenpeace CEO Martin Kaiser.
The Petersberg Climate Dialogue – an annual meeting in Berlin that is an important milestone on the way to the next climate summit – is to take place despite the Corona crisis. The federal government has moved the meeting to the Internet. The climate dialogue, which Chancellor Angela Merkel also mostly attends, is planned for April 27 and 28. “Climate change still exists, even if it is getting less attention,” said Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) to the German Press Agency a few days ago. Therefore, the commitment to climate protection must continue. After the crisis, environmental and climate protection would be all the more needed as a driver for the economy.