By Melanie Kendall-Reid, Head of Consultancy Services
Boris Johnson recently announced new dates for COP26 to allow more time to recover from the economic and travel impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The climate summit is now set to take place in the UK from 1st to 12th November 2021.
Concerns had been raised that it may be scaled back or cancelled altogether. However the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, recently announced that the UK remains focused on its preparations for the COP26 climate summit despite its delay until 2021, stating that the current coronavirus pandemic and the need for climate action are not an “either-or” scenario.
Coronavirus has brought the global economy to a standstill. The outbreak has seen countries go into lock down and international trade grind to a halt as global leaders implement measures to limit the death toll and protect their national health services from collapse.
Boris spoke about the world facing the greatest health crisis of our lifetimes and said that every government is striving to protect its people, yet no single country holds the keys to victory against the invisible enemy. If we are to defeat coronavirus, achieve a global recovery and avoid a future pandemic, Boris called for all nations to work together with international cooperation in this fight. He also called for all countries to strive to build it back better and base recovery on solid foundations, including a fairer, greener, and more resilient global economy to prepare the world for future generations to thrive.
Johnson asserted that there was no need to reinvent the wheel for the delayed climate change summit but called for nations to work together towards shared goals including the Paris Agreement and SDGs.
According to the UN, the world is not on track to deliver the aims of the Paris Agreement with preliminary data for 2019 suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions increased globally in 2019 and carbon emissions from fossil fuels grew by more than 0.5%. Whilst any delay is harmful for global climate policy in the short term, it is vital that measures are taken in the meantime.
There is growing pressure from several sources, including the International Energy Agency (IEA), that any support with re-energising the economy after the pandemic should be linked to environmental benefits. The need to reverse climate change by the end of the decade will not disappear with coronavirus and Governments should take the opportunity to ensure that recovery plans drive the implementation of technologies and measures that support sustainable and efficient energy use in the future.
In view of this, the UK Government is presented with a unique opportunity to take a lead on promoting a green agenda when re-energising the economy. Linking climate policy with immediate measures to deliver economic growth will improve short term net zero goals and would send a powerful message to global leaders who will be present at COP26 in 2021.
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