International climate talks land in UK

| 19th June 2019
The United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 talks are now expected to be hosted in the UK, according to the Foreign Office.

Hosting the next major climate summit will bring the eyes of the world squarely onto the UK. The question is what does the government want the world to see?

The UK looks set to host major international climate talks in 2020 after reaching a deal with Italy over rival bids to hold the UN meeting, the Foreign Office has said.

Under the proposal, the UK will host the Conference Of the Parties 26 meeting which is due to be in Europe next November, while Italy will host an "pre-Cop" event in the run-up to the talks.

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary,  said: "Today, through great joint diplomacy, we have agreed a bid for a UK Cop26 presidency in partnership with our friends in Italy. Together, through our continued commitment to work across Europe and internationally, we will build a better world for our children."

Partnership

The meeting is the most important round of talks since the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was secured in two weeks of negotiations in the French capital in 2015.

Next year's talks mark the full adoption of the Paris Agreement and the date by which countries are expected to come forward with stronger emissions cuts to meet the goals of the deal.

Plans submitted so far by countries are putting the world on a pathway towards more than 3C of warming, though the Paris Agreement commits them to curb temperatures to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Scientists warn that larger temperature rises will spell more damaging impacts including extinction of species, more extremes such as heatwaves and drought and sea level rises.

Sergio Costa, Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, said: "This partnership between Italy and the UK sends a strong signal of determined and informed cooperation on climate change, which is a theme that requires a change of paradigm and which will dominate our agenda and that of future generations."

Scientists

The proposal will be voted on by western European nations and several other countries including Australia and Canada, with the final sign-off by the UN at this year's annual conference in Santiago, Chile.

The UK and Italy had both been vying to host the talks, as is Turkey, but the deal now means it is expected the conference will be in the UK.

It comes after the UK sought to show leadership on the issue of climate change by announcing plans to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

For the fortnight of talks, delegations from more than 190 countries will descend on the UK - along with campaigners, scientists, business leaders and the media.

At stake

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's International climate lead, said: "The UK was the right choice to host the most important COP since the Paris Agreement was signed.

"It has the diplomatic capacity and historical alliances to secure an outcome that reflects the climate emergency we are in. The UK is very proud of its international connections, especially through the Commonwealth and its world-leading aid budget.

"Cop26 provides a unique platform for it to make a huge difference to those countries that are on the front lines of climate breakdown. Considering what is at stake for those communities, hosting next year's summit is a grave responsibility.

Zero

"Developing countries will be expecting not only significant emissions reductions to ensure we limit global heating to 1.5C, they will also need to be provided with the technological and financial support to help them adapt to a severely altered climate."

Rosie Rogers, climate campaign lead at Greenpeace UK, said: "Hosting the next major climate summit will bring the eyes of the world squarely onto the UK. The question is what does the government want the world to see?

"We can be proud of some real progress made and we are making headline commitments to be world leaders, but can we really show a country truly taking the lead in tackling the climate emergency? For example, the government is still allowing oil rigs to drill new wells in British waters and new airport runways to be built.

"If the UK government won't take the hard decisions on a real zero carbon economy, any claim to leadership will ring hollow."

This Author

Emily Beament is the Press Association environment correspondent. 

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