UK launches COP26 with co-hosts Italy

04 February 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today officially launched the next UN climate summit, joined by David Attenborough, the English broadcaster and natural historian, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at an event in central London. Johnson called on all nations to follow the lead the UK took last year in becoming the first country to make a legal commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The UK marked the launch of COP26 at London's Science Museum (Image:

The UK and Italy are co-hosts of COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November. Today's launch also kicks off a Year of Climate Action, Johnson announced, with events to take place in all four nations of the UK.

"2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming - it will be the year when we choose a cleaner, greener future for all," Johnson said in a speech at London's Science Museum. According to the BBC Johnson said: "We were the first to industrialise, so we have a responsibility to lead the way," adding, "People saying it's too expensive are wrong." The Earth has gone through a "catastrophic period" when "addiction" to fossil fuels got "out of control", he said, and global warming is now "taking its toll on the most vulnerable populations around the planet".

Attenborough said: "Now although we have agreed on the problem we have to do something about it.” It is "up to us" and co-hosts Italy "to put before the nations of the world what has to be done". "We don’t need to emphasise, that the longer we leave it ... the worse it is going to get. So now is the moment. It is up to us to organise the nations of the world to do something about it."

Tom Greatrex, CEO of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, said in a statement that, to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and power a boom in electric vehicles and heating, the UK needed to quadruple its production of clean power.

"Nuclear currently provides almost half of all our zero-carbon electricity, and to make progress we need to replace our retiring fleet, and then do more. The good news is we have nuclear projects waiting in the wings, ready to deliver clean power, jobs and investment and we have the means to do this at a dramatically reduced cost. With updated energy policy coming this spring, the time for action is now."

Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom said in a statement released by the Cabinet Office that making the most of the "enormous economic potential" of clean technologies was her "number one priority", while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government’s GBP1.5 billion (USD2 billion) strategy to make owning an electric vehicle as easy as possible is working - last year alone, a fully electric car was sold every 15 minutes. He announced that the government had brought forward its ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK from 2040 to 2035 at the latest.

The Cabinet Office announced last week that former MP Claire Perry O’Neill will no longer be president of COP26, and that her yet-to-be-announced replacement will be a minister.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News