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COP26 President Alok Sharma confirmed that the Government is planning to host the conference in-person rather than on Zoom, stating that face-to-face meeting is important to deliver “an inclusive summit”.

Alok Sharma, who had served as Energy Minister before becoming president designate of COP26 on a full-time basis, made the announcement at a speech delivered from Scotland’s Whitelee wind farm this morning.

After referring to “meeting at the negotiating table”, he stated: “I have always championed a physical COP. The desire for one is what I have been hearing loud and clear from governments and communities around the world. So, we are planning for a physical summit.

“We are ensuring that the safety of delegates and the local community will be paramount. Along with our colleagues at the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, public health bodies and the UN, we are exploring every possible Covid-19 security measure, that includes testing, vaccines and other measures to keep COP26 Covid-19.”

Sharma mentioned how an in-person format could support “an inclusive summit, where all voices are heard, including the voices of developing countries, women, young people and indigenous peoples”. This is despite the fact that the UK Government only added women to its own COP26 team following public criticism. Historically marginalised communities are some of the most impacted by climate change; they also hold some of the most effective solutions to tackling it,” Sharma expanded.

Sharma’s key message for today’s speech was to other nations, urging them to “keep 1.5°C alive” by phasing out coal power generation and by taking part in pre-conference events over the next six months. He described existing renewable energy arrays as “a glimpse into our future”.

He also urged individuals to remember that everyone has a role to play in the drive to reduce emissions by driving less and build in climate resilience by installing more renewable energy throughout the country.

Key Points:

  • Detailed updates about each of the UK COP26 unit’s themes for the conference were also provided within his speech. These are namely clean energy, clean transport, nature-based solutions, climate finance and adaptation and resilience. On the latter, Sharma said the conference will pursue to develop shared, mathematical, time-bound goals for adaptation.
  • Overall, Sharma stated the summit will deliver “wide-ranging” discussions, covering topics including the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’, international carbon markets and trading, and climate risk reporting for cities and businesses.
  • Coal must be placed in history as the world faces its “last hope” of holding back climate breakdown, the president of the Cop26 climate summit stated.
  • Holding global temperature rises within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels is the aspirational goal of the Paris climate agreement, as scientists have warned that above that level glaciers will melt, low-lying islands will face inundation, and corals will die off.

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