Boris Johnson’s advisers may push for a virtual Cop26. He should ignore them | Fiona Harvey

Boris Johnson’s advisers may push for a virtual Cop26. He should ignore them | Fiona Harvey

The UK must risk an in-person meeting in Glasgow if this crucial climate conference is to be a success

Walkouts, standoffs, shouting, tears, bloodletting – the UN climate Cops have seen it all. The annual meetings, in which all countries bar a few failed states take part, under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), are the only global forum for discussing the future of the planet. They have veered between triumph and disaster, marked by dramatic and sometimes traumatic moments. At their best they can be momentous events, shifting the world’s response to the climate crisis into a higher gear, as at the landmark Paris Cop in 2015.

This year’s 26th conference of the parties, postponed from last year because of Covid-19 and shaded by the pandemic, will be different. Scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November, these will be the most important talks since 2015. At Cop26, countries will lay out their plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions this decade – probably the last decade in which we still have a chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, beyond which corals bleach, low-lying islands face inundation and extreme weather will take hold.

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