COP26 Update: ‘Make or break’ Parliamentary term

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With less than two months until the COP26 Summit, Brevia will be tracking the latest milestones in the UK’s preparations for the upcoming climate conference. This week saw MPs return to Parliament following the summer recess, with what is certain to be a packed Parliamentary term. COP26 President Alok Sharma MP unveiled some further detail on the UK’s preparation plans for the climate summit, whilst the EAC Chair, The Rt Hon Philip Dunne, called on the Government to deliver effective climate leadership in the run up to the event.

UK to pay for delegates’ hotel quarantine

The UK Government issued a press release this week confirming it will fund the required quarantine hotel stays for delegates arriving from red list areas, as well as offer vaccines to accredited delegates who would otherwise be unable to get vaccinated.[1]

The President Designate also put out a tweet stating his commitment to delivering a fully in person conference. His statement followed an earlier warning published by the Climate Action Network, calling for the COP26 summit to be postponed. The network warned that “vaccine inequity, unaffordable accommodation, travel challenges and new surges in the Covid19 pandemic” would result in an unfair and exclusionary working environment for the climate talks.[2] It is not the first time an environmental group has raised concerns over fairness during the talks, with Greta Thunberg having suggested she would not attend the talks unless there was vaccine parity between countries.[3]

It is hoped that the Government’s new commitments will ease concerns over fair access to the COP26 event this November, with further contingency measures expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

‘Make of break’ Parliamentary term

Writing in the House Magazine, the Environmental Audit Committee Chair (EAC), Philip Dunne MP, set out the importance of the coming Parliamentary term for the transition to net zero.[4]

Whilst the publication of the Hydrogen Strategy was a welcome step, a number of key green publications are still expected, including the much-delayed Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Treasury’s Net Zero Spending Review, and the BEIS Department’s overarching Net Zero Strategy. Rather worryingly, in response to a Parliamentary Question on the publication of the heavily anticipated Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stated the document would be published ‘in due course’, raising further fears about an additional delay.[5]

With less than two months until the climate conference, the EAC Chair rightly noted that countries will look to the UK to lead by example and set out concrete policy commitments, backed up by clear funding and spending signals to investors.

Indeed, the Government has been forthcoming in its ambitious commitments, most notably with the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. However, with the COP26 event nearing, and faced with a number of difficult decisions – not least around costs and the decarbonisation of heat, the Government is in a race against time to live up to its desired green credentials.

President Biden to attend COP26

On Thursday evening, the Times journalist Tom Newton Dunn reported that US President Joe Biden had informally confirmed his attendance to the COP26 event in Glasgow.[6]

Whilst there has not been an official memo from the White House yet, the President stated that he planned to attend the COP26 summit during a speech delivered in Queens on Tuesday on Hurricane Ida. The transcript can be accessed through here.

This will come as a welcome relief to the Prime Minister, and indeed to those involved with COP26, following a series of setbacks over the summer recess, such as the failure to reach an agreement on the elimination of coal and overseas coal financing back in July.[7]

It is hoped that the President’s attendance will increase the likelihood of countries setting out bolder, more concrete climate ambitions, as well as attract international attention to the summit. Other notable attendees announced recently include the Queen, Prince Charles as well as Pope Francis.[8]

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Notes

[1]Cabinet Office, ‘COP26 President statement on COVID measures for delegates coming to Glasgow’, 7 September 2021, Link

[2] Climate Action Network, ‘’Cop26 Must Be Postponed’, 7 September 2021, Link

[3], Agence France-Presse ‘Greta Thunberg says she will not attend Cop26 climate summit’, The Guardian, 9 April 2021, link

[4] The Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, ‘This Parliamentary term is make-or-break for effective climate leadership and global action’, The House Magazine, 7 September 2021, Link

[5] UK Parliament: Written Question, 9 September 2021, UIN 42002, Link

[6] Tom Newton Dunn, Twitter, 9 September 2021, Link

[7] Cabinet Office, ‘COP26 President-Designate welcomes agreement from G20 to limit warming to 1.5C but urges further action on coal phase out’, 23 July 2021, Link

[8] BBC News, ‘COP26: Queen to attend climate conference in Glasgow’, 27 August 2021, Link

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