UN COP26 climate summit postponed until next year due to coronavirus crisis

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough at the launch of the COP26 UN Climate Summit at the Science Museum, London. Source: AAP

A crucial UN climate summit that had been due to take place in Scotland in November has been postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The UN's COP 26 climate change summit due to be held in Glasgow in November has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the British government said on Wednesday.

"In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible," the government said in a statement, adding that dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021 would be announced later.

Some 30,000 people, including 200 world leaders, had been due to attend the 10-day conference for crucial talks to halt rising global temperatures.

A UN panel in 2018 concluded that avoiding global climate chaos needed a major shift in society and the world economy.

Global CO2 emissions needed to drop 45 percent by 2030 and reach "net zero" by 2050, to limit temperature rises at 1.5 degrees Celsius -- the safe cap set as a goal in the Paris accord.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking at COP 25 held in Madrid last December.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking at COP 25 held in Madrid last December.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said postponement was unavoidable but that the pandemic should not divert the world from the climate change challenge.

"COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term," she said.

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