The COP26 climate summit set to take place in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to the global coronavirus crisis, a United Nations body announced.
The summit, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, will be postponed to 2021, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said in an online statement.
The president of the UN climate change conference, British State Secretary Alok Sharma, cited the need to focus on tackling the "unprecedented global challenge" brought on by the pandemic as a key reason behind the decision.
The UNFCCC said the current global health crisis made it impossible to hold an "ambitious and inclusive" COP in November.
Expectations were riding high on the COP26, seen as a key edition of the UN's yearly talks on climate change as leaders were expected to thrash out the final sticking points for the implementation of the Paris Accords.
National leaders are facing increasing pressure from climate campaigners and environmental groups as climate experts say delayed political action has created an urgent need for drastic scalebacks on carbon emissions to bring the world back on track to the Paris 1.5C degree warming goal.
Greenpeace International Director Jennifer Morgan said national leaders should now "double down on efforts to ensure a green and just way forward," in light of the postponement.
"Going back to 'business as usual' is completely unacceptable: this pandemic shows there are huge lessons to be learned about the importance of listening to science and the need for urgent collective global action," she tweeted.
The EU's Green Deal Commissioner Frans Timmermans said that the Commission took note of the decision but that the EU "would not slow down" work to prepare for the global climate talks.
The Brussels Times