New dates announced for key COP26 climate summit

New dates announced for key COP26 climate summit
A slogan reading "It's time to act for the planet" during the previous editions of the global climate warming talks. © Belga

New dates have been announced for the COP26 climate summit, which is now set to be delayed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Originally set to kick off this November in Glasglow, the global climate talks will now take place between 1 and 12 November, British officials hosting the talks announced on Friday.

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In April, as the coronavirus began wreaking havoc across Europe, a United Nations climate body (UNFCCC) body announced that the conference, hosted in a UK-Italian partnership, would be postponed to 2021.

The new dates will see both countries lead the talks at the same time as they hold the rotating presidencies of the G7 and G20 groups of industrialised and emerging economies.

British State Secretary Alok Sharma said that the delay will mean Italy and the UK will be able to harness both presidencies to boost climate ambition among the COP's 196 participating nations.

The pressure was high on world leaders to sign off on ambitious regulation capable of rapidly driving down global carbon emissions.

In Belgium, a major climate school strike weeks ahead of the lockdown saw thousands from across Belgium and Europe —including teen activist Greta Thunberg— march through Brussels to demand ambitious action to fight climate change.

The upcoming summit was seen as a key edition of the global talks, with expectations riding high for nations to thrash out the final sticking points to implement the Paris Accords.

Last year's summit in Madrid was labelled a disappointment and a missed opportunity, as attempts to water down the accords by nations like Australia, Brazil and the US brought negotiations to a halt, pushing urgent decisions over to the next edition.

The postponement of the summit comes amid drastic reductions in global carbon emissions, with the lockdowns imposed to fight the pandemic bringing entire industries to a halt.

Climate campaigners have seized the moment to demand that governments rescuing industries left reeling as a result of the pandemic condition state aid to policies capable of keeping nations' on track with their global climate commitments.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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