Why Does It Matter That Putin Won't Be Attending COP26?

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  • Vladimir Putin
    Vladimir Putin
    President of Russia

Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he will not be going to COP26, although the Kremlin gave no explanation for his absence.

Putin, the president of Russia, is just one of more than 100 world leaders who were invited to the pivotal UN climate conference which will address the environmental crisis faced around the world.

In total, 120 leaders have already confirmed they will be attending.

Yet Putin’s presence was considered quite key to the success of the summit. Here’s why.

Why does Putin need to be there?

Russia was the fourth largest CO2 emitting nation back in 2019. It was solely responsible for producing slightly under 5% of the world’s emissions.

Russia is also the second largest foreign oil supplier to the US.

Climate Change Tracker, an independent scientific analysis website, has dubbed the country “critically insufficient” in its policies, as it has not put enough money towards to tackling the issue and falls short with its domestic target.

Yet the Russian government maintains that addressing climate change is “one of our foreign policy’s most important priorities”.

Putin has not directly commented on why he won’t be attending COP26 either, even though he previously stated that he will be taking part. He is still expected to partake in the conference virtually and Russia has promised to still send a strong delegation.

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the prime minster was urging all world leaders to attend “given this is a very critical moment in terms of tackling climate change”.

The UK is therefore expected to be very disappointed at Putin’s absence, especially as it undermines how much change the summit can really implement.

Vladimir Putin will not be attending COP26 in Glasgow at the end of this month (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin will not be attending COP26 in Glasgow at the end of this month (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Why is this climate conference so important?

This conference takes place from 31 October until 12 November.

There are hopes that in this time, leaders could negotiate a new deal to halt rising global temperatures at the summit.

Approximately 200 nations will be asked to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a huge step which should reduce global warming.

It is pipped to be the largest climate talks since 2015, when countries agreed to limit temperature increases during landmark discussions in Paris.

This isn’t the first hiccup COP26 has faced

News of Putin’s absence comes amid growing fears about the UK’s climbing Covid rates – Britain now has among the highest number of infections in the world.

The Russian president did say on October 13 that the pandemic would play an important role in his overseas travel, although Russia has seen record levels of Covid-related deaths in its own country recently.

Morocco has already banned flights to and from the UK as Britain’s Covid infection rates is 40 times higher than its own country, which could spell further trouble for world leaders who were planning to come to the summit in person.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is also not expected to attend the climate summit, although there has been no official confirmation from Beijing.

Australia’s premier Scott Morrison was not expected to go to the conference, but once the Queen was overheard expressing her frustration towards world leaders who don’t address climate change, he changed his mind.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.


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