COP26 climate conference postponed due to coronavirus
The decision was reached by UN leaders in light of the “unprecedented global challenge” of the disease
The United Nations climate change conference, COP26, which is to be held in Glasgow has been postponed because of disruption caused by coronavirus.
The decision was reached by UN leaders in light of the “unprecedented global challenge” of the disease, the UK’s business secretary Alok Sharma, who is in charge of the event, said.
The event had been expected to attract over 30,000 delegates from around the world, including heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus.
It is expected the event will be rescheduled to the middle of next year.
The announcement comes as the Edinburgh summer festivals were cancelled for the same reason.
The Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the Military Tattoo, the Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival were all cancelled on Wednesday.
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who is also in charge of overseeing major events, said that “there was no alternative”.
Hyslop said that the decision to cancel COP26 because the people involved with planning for the event were focussed on the public health crisis.
She also said that for both COP26 and the festivals that the dangers associated with international travel prevented any rescheduling of the events for later this year.
On the cancellation of the climate change conference, Hyslop said : “The whole point of having COP is not to just to hold an event, it’s for effective decision making, and we want countries to be in the best place to make effective decisions to tackle climate change.
“As we go through this crisis, people are behaving differently, they’re doing things that are different, and perhaps that might be an opportunity for us when we get through this to think about how we change our lives to deliver what COP wanted to do, which is substantial changes in climate emissions of the world in order to tackle that emergency.”
On the summer festivals she said she felt “hugely disappointed”.
She added: “we really want to work with them to make sure that they recover and the a strong 2021 season."
Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “We welcome the common sense decision to postpone COP26.
"Given the global health and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that hosting an international conference in November would be difficult if not impossible. The decision also means that much needed resources can be focussed on the immediate task of saving lives and protecting the economy.
“The Scottish Government remains committed to supporting Glasgow as host of COP26. When the time is right, we look forward to welcoming delegates to a successful COP26 in Glasgow, that sets the world on course to net-zero in a way that is fair and just.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “Postponing COP26 is the right decision in these unique and difficult circumstances. A huge amount of work has gone into preparing for the event in Glasgow, and that won’t be wasted. I very much look forward to Glasgow welcoming the world for a successful COP26 next year.”
Scottish Greens Climate Spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said: "While it is naturally disappointing that COP26 has now been postponed, it’s clear that it would have been almost impossible to make the necessary preparations and negotiations in the face of the current COVID19 crisis.
"The climate and health emergencies mean that we must re-build the economy in a way that that supports people and creates new jobs in sectors that are vital for our future. That will need fresh thinking about how governments can develop a Green New Deal that intervenes and invests in the economy, creating fair work while also improving our health and wellbeing.
“When COP26 does eventually arrive in Glasgow next year I am confident that global leaders will be more determined than ever to ensure that meaningful climate action is achieved, especially if there is a new US President.”