COP26 delay won't pause climate action, vows Sharma
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Action to tackle the climate emergency will not let up, the president of the UN's Climate Change Conference said, despite COP26 being delayed.
Alok Sharma was speaking during the June Momentum for Climate Change, a series of online events hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Last week the UK government, which is hosting the event in Glasgow, announced it would be postponed until November 2021.
Mr Sharma, the UK's energy minister, said: "We all understand the extraordinary circumstances that we’re in, as to why we’ve had to postpone COP26, but I just want to echo the words of other colleagues here in that we’re absolutely not postponing action on tackling climate change.
"And I can tell you as the incoming presidency we’re absolutely committed to working with all parties and stakeholders to accelerate climate action this year and of course in 2021 leading up to November.
"I want us to pursue a package that absolutely unleashes the full potential of the Paris Agreement and powers the UNFCCC process forward. We’re totally committed to delivering on a really ambitious, inclusive COP26 and we want to make sure that the voices who are most affected by climate change are also heard very, very loudly."
COP26, postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, will now take place at Glasgow's SEC between November 1 and 12 next year
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 honour those who 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."
Climate campaigners said both the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency had unearthed ongoing inequalities around the world.
Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said: "Given the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, it's right to delay COP26 until it is safe to hold the UN climate talks in a way that ensures full global south participation.
"However, rich country's governments must not use the now considerable delay to avoid taking urgent action to reduce emissions at home and provide badly needed finance for climate action in developing countries. New, ambitious national pledges, as required under the Paris Agreement, should be submitted as soon as possible this year, and must reflect countries' fair share of climate action.
"The coronavirus crisis has painfully exposed the common injustices at the heart of the climate crisis, and domestic and global inequalities, and shown more clearly than ever the need for deep, transformative change that puts people and nature over corporate interests.
"Climate justice must therefore be at the very heart of the Scottish and UK governments plans for economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus, and their input to COP26.”