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Energy sector welcomes postponement of COP26 as world faces ‘urgent threat’ from COVID-19

Image: Gov.UK.

Image: Gov.UK.

The energy sector has welcomed the decision to postpone the UN climate conference COP26 until 2021 due to COVID-19.

Representatives of the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with the UK and its Italian partners made the decision as it is no longer possible to hold “an ambitious, inclusive COP26”.

The conference was set to take place in Glasgow in November, but a new date next year will now be chosen that will allow participants more time to prepare.

COP26 President-Designate and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma said the decision was taken as the world is facing an “unprecedented global challenge”.

“We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference.”

The energy sector has welcomed the decision to postpone COP26, with RenewableUK’s head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams calling it “disappointing” but the “right decision”.

“We hope that the rescheduled COP summit will be able to take place as soon as it is safe in 2021 and that governments around the world will bring forward plans to rapidly increase the low carbon investment that will be needed to meet climate targets and support the economic recovery post-Coronavirus”.

This was echoed by the Energy Networks Association, which said that “safety must come first and this is an entirely understandable decision".

“Although COP-26 has been postponed, the UK must continue to maintain our relentless long-term focus on innovation and investment in low carbon network infrastructure that has seen the UK become a global superpower of renewable energy.”

The postponement of the conference is a response to “the most urgent threat facing humanity today” said the UN Climate Change executive secretary Patricia Espinosa.

However this does not mean that we can forget that climate change is "the biggest long term threat", he continued.

“Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”

The energy sector will be poised to continue to lead progress on decarbonisation as soon as possible, Energy UK’s director of external affairs Abbie Sampson said.

“We all want to see COP26 be the success it needs to be; so once we are able to move past the current global challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic, we will need to regroup and rekindle the wide-spread commitment to meeting the net zero target, because there is no time to delay.”

The sector has urged the UK government not to lose focus on climate change action, however.

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, chief executive of the REA added that: “We are likely to see a temporary reduction in global emissions because of this crisis, which may buy us some time, but this cannot mean that the UK has a year’s grace period before taking action. Climate change is a public health issue, just like COVID-19 and must be viewed with the same level of urgency in the longer term.

“Going forward, the UK government must not lose sight of the net zero ambition and ensure that a net zero strategy and Treasury Test are published in Autumn, making the green energy transition the cornerstone of our financial recovery, and encouraging partnering countries to join us in stepping up their climate ambitions. The effects of which can then be showcased and reviewed at COP 26 next year.”

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