UK not looking to postpone COP26 climate summit - government spokesperson

William James
·2-min read

By William James

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is not planning to postpone the United Nations' Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday, responding to a Sky News report that the summit could be cancelled or radically changed.

The November summit in Glasgow, Scotland, was originally due to be held in 2020, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

"We are not looking to postpone the summit," the spokesperson said. "We are working on the basis of COP26 being held in person this November, while closely monitoring the COVID situation."

Earlier, Sky said two government sources had suggested the summit might have to be delayed for a second time amid signs that the pandemic is worsening in some parts of the world.

While cases of COVID-19 are falling in Britain and the country's vaccine rollout is among the most advanced in the world, the government has previously expressed concern about the potential for new or existing variants being imported and causing a new spike in infections.

"The summit team is working closely with all partners and exploring what different scenarios might mean for COP26 and how we plan for that, whilst putting the health of the participants and the local community first," the government spokesperson said.

The government is proceeding as if the summit is still going ahead, with foreign minister Dominic Raab delivering a speech to foreign and development ministers from around the world earlier on Wednesday.

Britain is hoping to use the summit to revitalise commitments to international climate aims after a pandemic that has pushed the environment down the global list of priorities.

The summit had been seen as a way for post-Brexit Britain to forge closer relations with the United States, which under President Joe Biden has recommitted to accords on climate change.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden, Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones)