The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC, which was scheduled to meet in November this year in UK’s Glasgow, will now take place from November 1-20, 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations announced on 29 May 2020. A decision, in this regard, was agreed upon between the UK government, the UN climate body and member states late on 28 May 2020.
  1. The development comes two days after the European Union (EU) unveiled the EUR 750 billion green stimulus plan to shore up the sagging economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic while also making sure that the 27-nation trading bloc achieves climate neutrality by 2050.
  2. COP26 President Alok Sharma said that nations must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change while rightly focusing on the fight to contain coronavirus. 
  3. With the new dates for COP26 now agreed we are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021. The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience and well-being and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean resilient recovery.
  4. Other climate leaders such as European Climate Foundation’s CEO Laurence Tubiana, one of the main architects of the Paris Climate Agreement, said that this additional time should be used to “ensure climate plans are the basis of a cleaner, healthier global recovery”. 
  5. The COP26 is being dubbed as one of the most crucial since the 2015 Paris agreement in ramping up climate ambitions. 
  6. The protracted negotiations in Madrid last year delivered a weak outcome and failed to resolve core issues such as trading in carbon credit markets and providing financial assistance to developing countries for climate damages.
  7. The confirmation of the COP26 date also comes in the backdrop of repeated warnings issued by the global scientific community about the lack of urgency in addressing climate action among nations despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that going beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels means the bringing of even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts.
  1. The UNFCCC is one of three Conventions that have come out of the historic 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. 
  2. The Rio summit gave rise to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under which countries have agreed to restrict the emissions of greenhouse gases, first through the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and now through the Paris Agreement.
  3. It also gave rise to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which too has delivered an international arrangement to protect and use biodiversity.
  4. It also gave rise to the UN Convention to combat Desertification (UNCCD) which has not yet resulted in any international treaty or protocol to fight desertification.
  5. The UNFCCC holds its general meetings every year, while CBD and CCD meet every two years.