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The UK and Italy will jointly host COP26—the international conference on climate change held every year. The UK will host COP; and Italy will host pre-COP events. According to the UK Government, COP26 will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, with over 30,000 delegates, including world leaders, experts, campaigners and government officials.

The conference was scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland from 9-20 November 2020. On 1 April 2020, the UNFCCC, the UK Government and the Italian government announced that COP26 had been postponed due to Covid-19. Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021 will be announced in due course. The Government press release stated:

Rescheduling will ensure all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place. We will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions.

Alok Sharma is the COP26 President alongside his position as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

COP26 was to be held five years after the Paris Agreement was agreed. 2020 is effectively when the Paris Agreement comes into effect and is also the year when Parties to the Paris Agreement are expected to put forward enhanced or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) as part of the so-called “ratchet” mechanism. NDCs set out each Party’s efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Having previously been part of a joint EU-NDC, the Government has confirmed that the UK will be “bringing forward its own, increased NDC well ahead of COP26”.

The Prime Minister officially launched COP26 on 4 February 2020. Delivering success at COP26 has been described as a “top priority” for the UK Government. Alok Sharma has summarised the UK’s aims for COP26 as follows:

  • All countries to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions, committing to further cuts in carbon emissions by 2030.
  • All countries to commit to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible.
  • Developed countries to honour their commitments, including meeting the 100-billion dollar goal for climate finance.
  • Seeking to agree a package which takes forward the Paris Agreement.

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