UK climate summit chief Alok Sharma dismisses calls to delay COP26

London, Sep 7 (PTI) UK Cabinet minister Alok Sharma, the president-designate of the upcoming COP26 UN climate summit in Scotland, on Tuesday rejected calls by environmental groups for a postponement of the meet from November.

The Climate Action Network, a coalition of more than 1,500 environmental organisations from across in 130 countries, had argued for a delay due to COVID-19 safety constraints which could prevent many countries’ delegates from travelling for it.

However, Sharma took to Twitter to insist that the summit must go ahead as scheduled in Glasgow in November, already postponed once last year due to the global pandemic lockdown situation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel to the UK to attend the summit later this year.

Climate change has not taken time off, which is why #COP26 must go ahead in person in November, said Sharma.

The UK is funding quarantine hotels for accredited delegates from red list countries. This is in addition to our vaccines offer to ensure an inclusive, accessible and COVID-secure summit, the Agra-born minister said.

The Climate Action Network, however, said there is a risk that many government delegates, civil society campaigners and journalists from developing countries may be unable to attend because of travel restrictions.

Our concern is that those countries most deeply affected by the climate crisis and those countries suffering from the lack of support by rich nations in providing vaccines will be left out of the talks and conspicuous in their absence at COP26,” said Tasneem Essop, the network’s executive director.

There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the UN climate talks and this is now compounded by the health crisis, she said.

It comes as the European Union’s climate monitoring service said that average temperatures across the continent this summer were the warmest on record.

Mediterranean countries in particular saw record-breaking temperatures this summer, along with devastating wildfires that prompted Greece this week to appoint a new minister of climate crisis and civil protection.

The UK, as the host of the summit, is keen to achieve ambitious targets for global temperature rise.