UK to host United Nations climate change summit

11 September 2019

The UK has won the bid to host the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). It will host the main COP summit while Italy will host preparatory events. Up to 30,000 delegates are expected to attend the summit, which will be held at Glasgow's Scottish Events Campus in December next year.

The venue for COP26 (Image: SEC)

The government expects the UK's nomination to be formally accepted at the COP25 summit in Chile this December.

Claire Perry, UK nominated president for COP26, said today's announcement means the UK is now officially backed by the group of countries responsible for nominating the 2020 host. This follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson's commitment at the recent G7 Summit in Biarritz to ensure that the COP26 summit addresses both climate change and biodiversity "as two sides of the same coin", she added.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a video recording by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office that the UK had just received "a huge vote of confidence" from its international partners.

"The UK is leading the world in tackling climate change: We were the first major economy to pass laws to end the UK's contribution to global warming  Since 1990, the UK has reduced its emissions by over 40% while growing the economy by over two-thirds and today we’re driving ahead with plans to make travel greener with over GBP500 million of new investment in green technologies. For example, to expand rapid charging points for electric cars.

"And It's because of the UK that 57 million people around the world are better able to cope with the effects of climate change. UK Aid [part of the Department for International Development] is funding early warning systems for communities at risk of flooding in Nepal and Bangladesh; it's helping farmers grow crops more resilient to extreme weather right across Africa; and it’s preserving water in areas at risk of drought in Somalia and Afghanistan.

"In 2015 we helped secure the ambitious Paris Agreement - the first time all countries committed to reduce their emissions and limit the increase in global temperatures. Now we’re ready to bring the world together to make sure we leave our precious environment in a better state for our children."

Matthew Fell, head of UK policy at the Confederation of British Industry, said hosting COP26 was "a golden opportunity for the country to demonstrate its continued leadership from the front on global climate action". He added: “The conference will also show the world that the UK is a top destination for low-carbon investment, driving progress on reducing our own contribution to climate change and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050."

The UK's independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in July, however, that the UK government must show it is serious about its legal obligations to tackle and prepare for climate change.

In May, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. This followed analysis from the CCC of the need to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions effectively to zero by that year and provided evidence that it could meet this new goal at a cost already agreed by Parliament.

In its Reducing UK emissions - 2019 Progress Report to Parliament, the CCC noted, however, that action to cut GHGs was lagging far behind what is needed, even before the government set the tougher new target to cut pollution to zero overall by 2050.

In 2018, for the fifth consecutive year, the sector with the largest percentage reduction in emissions was the power sector. Excluding the power sector, however, economy-wide progress was "much less positive", the CCC said, with emissions falling by 1.0% on average (2.0% when temperature-adjusted). Reaching net-zero emissions in 2050 will require an average annual emissions reduction of around 15 MtCO2e (equivalent to 3% of 2018 emissions) across the economy, it said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News