Alok Sharma has today told MPs that the UK is working to ensure that this November’s COP26 climate summit can be held in person.
Speaking in Parliament today, Sharma, the conference’s president, added that there was no intention of postponing the conference for a second time.
“We are working very hard to ensure we deliver an in-person COP, which allows all countries to participate on an equal footing”, he said.
“This is incredibly important as many parties feel strongly that negotiations must be in person.”
On a potential delay, he said: “COP26 has already been postponed by one year and the urgency of the climate crisis has not abated.”
“I don’t sense any desire amongst parties for a further postponement.”
COP26 was originally due to take place last November, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sharma’s comments came after a former conference chief said that it would be better to delay the conference then to “mess it up”.
Yvo de Boer, who ran the 2009 conference, told the BBC: “I think a hybrid whereby you have the high-level ministerial segment in person and the rest virtual that might work.
“But can you cover all the ground that needs to be covered in a virtual meeting, given the fact that generally the process relies very heavily on bilateral meetings and backroom deals?
“My overall senses that delay is better than messing it up, overplaying your hand and having a failed meeting.”
Earlier today Sharma wrote to participating countries to lay out his expectations for the November conference.
He said that negotiators were facing an “unprecedented agenda” which called for “unprecedented measures”.
Participants must both address unresolved issues from the 2015 Paris talks, as well as new issues that have emerged over the last couple of years.