Environment Secretary: Cop26 climate conference should take place in person

Ted Hennessey, PA
·2-min read

A major climate change summit in the UK should be held in person this year, a Government minister has said.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said he believes the Cop26 climate conference, set to take place in Glasgow in November, would be “much more effective” if people were able to physically attend.

The event had been postponed from November 2020 due to the pandemic.

Cop26 – Glasgow
The event has been delayed due to the pandemic (Rachel Keenan/Cop26/PA)

On Sunday, Mr Eustice told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Well, we think it should be done in person, physically.

“There is a Cop secretariat or a Cop bureau that ultimately makes these final decisions but they do so in very close co-operation with the host country.

“We delayed it obviously last year because we wanted it to happen in person. I think it’s much more effective if it does happen in person and that’s absolutely our intention.

“There may be components of it that are part-virtual that some people attend virtually but we think for the main leader summit that it happens in person and that’s our intention.”

His comments echo those made by Cop President Alok Sharma, who said last week the Government is “working very hard” to ensure the conference can go ahead in person.

Energy White Paper
Alok Sharma also wants the conference to go ahead in person in November (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has said she does not plan to attend the Glasgow event and suggested it be postponed.

The summit is expected to bring together the largest gathering of heads of state ever hosted in the UK, alongside climate experts and campaigners, to agree a co-ordinated global action plan to tackle the climate emergency.

No 10 has said the UK was “using all international avenues” to ask every nation to set ambitious emission-reducing targets in order to reach net zero carbon output by the middle of the century.

It comes as global leaders are to take part in a virtual two-day summit on climate change from April 22 headed by US president Joe Biden.

Mr Sharma, the Prime Minister’s climate change tsar, will travel to Japan this week to bolster support ahead of the environment conference.

He is set to meet Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga to advocate for strong climate policies and call on him to follow the UK’s lead in phasing out coal power.