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Boris Johnson should move COP26 online if he wants to avoid a political fiasco

Global Warming Policy Forum

As hopes for a successful UN climate summit are waning by the day, calls for turning COP26 into a virtual or hybrid event due to Covid-19 are suddenly growing.

The GWPF has repeatedly called for the COP26 conference to be moved online. Earlier this year, in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson GWPF director Benny Peiser pointed out that President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate had demonstrated that a physical meeting was not necessary to get political leaders to make lofty climate pledges.

And since President Biden’s conference has already delivered an array of pledges from 40 national leaders, it is unlikely that Glasgow will achieve a great deal more.

Now, Christina Figueres, has made a similar point, explaining that “over the past 18 months we have actually shifted our mindset and realised that much can be done without our physical presence.”

Figueres, the main architect of the Paris climate agreement, has called for the upcoming Cop26 summit in Glasgow to become a hybrid event, with some negotiations taking place online.

If Boris wants to avoid a COP flop, he should follow the advice by this seasoned climate diplomate. Pulling the plug on a physical event and blaming Covid for the ‘regrettable decision’ may be his best chance to avoid a humiliating fiasco in November.

A climate change negotiator has said the COP26 summit cannot happen in full and in person due to Covid.

Christina Figueres said it is unlikely 25,000 people could go as planned — but insisted world leaders must be there.

She added: “Over the past 18 months we have actually shifted our mindset and realised that much can be done without our physical presence.

“Somewhere that is only virtual I think is going to be extremely difficult.

“It will probably not be possible to have 25,000 people descend on Glasgow as was originally planned.

“And so the big question is going to be, what is the sweet spot in between that will allow for successful and efficient negotiations?”

COP26 President Designate Alok Sharma wants leaders in Glasgow in November to secure a deal to curb global warming at 1.5 degrees.

Ministers have offered vaccine stocks to developing countries to help more people attend.

But it emerged neither China nor India have submitted updated climate plans for the summit.

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