The postponement, expected to be approved, could result in national recovery plans with high environmental costs, some diplomats say.
Credit…Pool photo by Tolga Akmen
International negotiations designed to address the sweeping global threat of climate change will quite likely be delayed by a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain, the host of the talks, which were initially scheduled to be held at the end of this year in Glasgow, proposed on Tuesday that they be postponed until November 2021. A decision is to be made Thursday by countries that make up the rotating governing board of the United Nations agency that sponsors the talks.
“Given the uneven spread of Covid-19, this date would present the lowest risk of further postponement and the best chance of delivering an inclusive and ambitious COP,” British officials said in a letter to countries in the accord, using shorthand for Conference of the Parties, the formal name of the meeting.
The conference is meant to rally world leaders to chart ways to avert the worst effects of climate change, including fatal heat waves and flooded coastal cities.
It took more than 20 such conferences before countries agreed on the landmark 2015 Paris pact, under which they pledged to keep global average temperatures from rising well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.
The next round of talks, the 26th annual COP, is the most important session since then. Countries are expected to announce revised climate targets in order to reach that global target, which remains elusive.
“We’re losing time,” he said. “If there are no strings attached to international aid and national recovery plans we may be in a very difficult spot. Having a COP soon would help influence global recovery plans.”
The British letter gave a nod to those concerns by saying that “Covid-19 economic recovery is an opportunity to build more sustainable and inclusive economies and societies.”