Boris Johnson has announced new dates for COP 26 set to take place in the UK. The summit will now take place from 1st  to 12th  November 2021 to allow more time to recover from the economic and travel impacts of the virus. The Prime Minister restated his desire for the UK to lead a sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by bringing together international representatives to further progress on reaching the targets set in the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma recently announced that the  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. Concerns had been raised that it may be scaled back or cancelled altogether.

The coronavirus pandemic 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 COVID-19, 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 and towards shared goals including the expansion of girls’ education, the Paris Agreement, and the 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 the 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 support for re-energising the economy after the pandemic should be linked to and promote environmental benefits. The need to reverse climate change by the end of the decade will not disappear with  Covid-19 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 lead on promoting a green agenda when re-energising the economy to the rest of the world despite the delay of the COP26 summit. By linking climate policy with immediate measures to deliver economic growth to improve upon short term net zero goals would send a powerful message to the global leaders who the UK will host for the delayed COP-26 in 2021.

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