Alok Sharma says UK planning COVID-secure measures to allow in-person COP26 in Glasgow
The UK is planning for a physical COP26 which is safe for delegates and the people of Glasgow, the president of the climate conference has said.
The two-week event is scheduled to take place in November of this year, having been postponed last year because of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
But Alok Sharma, who delivered a speech this morning, said it is "very clear" that people around the world want to see a physical summit as parties try to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.
This would include COVID-19 secure measures but no details have been confirmed on whether those attending would need to have been vaccinated to do so.
Sharma said: "In terms of the issue of the physical COP, I have always been very clear that COP26 should be the most inclusive cop ever.
"And, I've been travelling around the world, I've been talking to governments around the world, and what is very clear, is that people want to see a physical COP.
"This is particularly important for developing countries, who want to sit at the same table, they want to sit face to face with the big nations, the big emitters, as part of these negotiations."
Sharma, who said in his speech that COP26 is the "best chance" of limiting rising global temperatures to 1.5C, said it would be a "conference and a summit like no other".
"It's not just a bunch of speeches that are given," he said in a Q&A with journalists. "This is 197 parties coming together for a negotiation.
"When you have a negotiation, there will be times when people want to break off and have discussions on the side. And that's why people want to see a physical event.
"Now, of course, what we're going to have to ensure with a physical event is that this is safe, not just for the delegates, but it's also very safe for the people of Glasgow.
"We are planning on that basis. As I said, in my speech, we're working with our delivery partners, with the health authorities to ensure that we're looking at all COVID-19 secure measures.
"Part of that is is, of course, a vaccine. That is the thinking that we're doing right now, when we have more details, of course, I will set all of that out.
"But the key issue for me is that we want to ensure this happens physically, it happens in November in Glasgow, and it is as inclusive as possible."