New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) With Britain announcing new dates the already deferred crucial climate UN talks, known as the COP26, until November 2021 owing to coronavirus pandemic, climate experts on Friday said shifting the date is understandable but the postponement must not be an excuse to delay ambitious climate actions.
The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, to which India is also party, said it is committed to take forward crucial work to tackle climate change under the umbrella of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) despite the COVID-19 crisis.
The COP26 was originally set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 under the presidency of Britain.
“Pleased to have agreed a new date for COP26 with our Italian partners and the UNFCCC,” COP26 President-Designate and British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma informed in a tweet on Thursday evening.
COP26 will now take place between November 1 and 12, 2021. The new date will also allow the UK and Italy to harness the G7 and G20 presidencies in driving climate ambition, he added.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “Our efforts to address climate change and COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive.”
“If done right, the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable climate path. We honor those whom we have lost by working with renewed commitment and continuing to demonstrate leadership and determination in addressing climate change, and building a safe, clean, just and resilient world,” she said in a statement.
Reacting to deferring the summit one year, World Resources Institute President and CEO Andrew Steer told IANS that the shifting the date is understandable, but there can be no let-up in tackling the climate crisis.
“Just as we have witnessed extraordinary determination and courage in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need a similar commitment to avoid a climate catastrophe,” he said.
“As countries turn to jumpstart their economies, they have a once in a generation moment to rebuild societies to be more sustainable, equitable, resilient, and healthy.
“Leading businesses, economists and health experts are clamoring for countries to lead on the climate crisis. Last week, over 150 CEOs — representing companies with a combined $2.4 trillion in value — urged world leaders to ensure the recovery is in line with climate science. Leading economists are finding that investing in a green recovery will not only reduce emission but create better economic returns,” Steer said.
He said countries like Chile and Rwanda recently revealed climate plans that are far more robust than what they offered five years ago.
“Others, especially the largest economies, should step forward with bold climate commitments of their own. Countries should integrate climate plans with their recovery efforts to create jobs, boost inclusive economic growth, and protect the health and livelihoods for all people.”
Responding to the new date for the UN climate summit, Britain-based Christian Aid’s Global Climate Lead, Dr Kat Kramer, said: “It makes sense to push back the climate summit to November next year, this is one meeting that can’t be done by zoom call. But it’s a concern that the world is missing out on a major opportunity to agree the next steps in the global fight to tackle the climate crisis.”
“Years of rising emissions mean that people on the front lines of climate change will be battling both the coronavirus pandemic and extreme weather. We need to see countries using their economic recovery packages to accelerate the transition to a zero carbon world.”
“We also want to see a global summit in spring 2021 to ensure there is international solidarity in the recovery from COVID-19 which will ensure no country is left behind,” Kramer added.
Longtime UN observer and Director of Nairobi-based think tank Power Shift Africa Mohamed Adow said moving the climate summit is the right move.
“However let’s not fool ourselves that climate change will wait for us until we can hold a conference,” he said, adding “it would be shameful if rich countries recharge their economies on the backs of the climate vulnerable”.
Hurricane season threatens to crash down on most vulnerable already reeling from COVID-19.
In a new research paper, scientists have found the Caribbean hurricane region to be among the hotspots of compounding climate and COVID-19 risks in the next months.
Recent weather disasters in COVID-struck countries like India and Bangladesh already resulted in grim impacts on poor people’s livelihoods.
In Bangladesh, for example, more than 2 million people had to be evacuated into storm shelters to protect against Cyclone Amphan, limiting possibilities of social distancing, and many crops and arable lands were destroyed by seawater, trees and homes uprooted, and animals killed.
Welcome the clarity that the next official UN climate conference will take place under the British Presidency, leading humanitarian organization CARE’s Global Policy Lead on Climate Change and Resilience, Sven Harmeling, said its postponement must not be an excuse to delay ambitious climate action.
“Undoubtedly, climate protection and support for those affected by the climate crisis, especially women and girls, cannot be delayed and must be addressed through economic stimulus programs in response to COVID-19.
“CARE supports the announcement by the COP26 presidency that numerous other multilateral conferences will advance climate action over the next 18 months.”
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])