Coronavirus pandemic delays crucial United Nations COP26 climate conference until October 2021

Published by Brent Patterson on

On April 2, the United Nations announced, “With no end in sight to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the UN climate change talks which were due to take place in Scotland later in the year, have been postponed until October 2021.”

Notably, there are plans to use the SEC Centre (in the photo above), where the climate summit was to take place, as a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. 

Significantly, Reuters has previously reported, “The [Paris] agreement enters a crucial implementation phase in 2020, when countries are supposed to ratchet up their ambitions ahead of the next major round of talks in Glasgow.”

The Guardian now highlights, “Current commitments under the Paris agreement are insufficient to meet its aims of holding the world to no more than 2C – and preferably no more than 1.5C – of heating, beyond which the impacts of climate breakdown are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.”

And the Associated Press has cautioned, “So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries.”

The UN media release announcing the delay adds, “[Secretary-General António Guterres] maintained that efforts to increase ambition and action on climate change must continue, ‘especially as countries take measures to recover from this crisis’.”

There is a concern on this front. The Guardian reports, “Several prominent climate experts had feared that delaying the talks would mean governments eased off on pursuing stronger commitments to fulfil the Paris goals.”

Furthermore, the BBC reports, “Governments are set to spend huge amounts to boost their economies once the pandemic is over. There’s a view that when the summit is eventually held, it could be an important forum for ensuring that money is spent on sustainable and renewable projects.”

But in Canada, The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Canadian government is now considering a $15 billion bailout for the oil and gas sector, while the Alberta government has just announced a $7 billion investment package to support the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to the United States.

This is a situation not unique to Canada. The G20 recently met by video conference given the health emergency of the coronavirus pandemic and the statement that emerged from that summit highlighted $5 trillion of spending on economic stimulus, though it made no mention of a Green New Deal transition to a renewable energy future based on the principles of climate justice and human rights.

And yet human rights are a crucial element in the climate crisis. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has previously commented, “We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people.”

And Katharine Rall of Human Rights Watch has stated, “The frequent attacks and threats against environmental rights defenders throughout the world are an example of why governments need to include protecting rights in their climate policies.”

To read the Peace Brigades International-Canada fact sheet ‘5 things to know about human rights and climate change’, please click here.

Categories: News Updates

1 Comment

David Rintoul · April 3, 2020 at 3:26 pm

I would be more concerned if COP25 had accomplished anything.

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