COP26 summit should happen face to face, insists George Eustice

COP26 summit should happen face to face this year rather than over Zoom, insists Environment Secretary

  • George Eustice insisted the COP26 summit should happen face to face this year
  • The conference already delayed and now due to be held in Glasgow in November
  • Climate activist Greta Thunberg among those who have said they will not come 

Ministers today batted away calls for a major climate change summit to be held over Zoom rather than face to face in the UK.

Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted the Cop26 conference – due to happen in Glasgow in November – will be ‘much more effective’ if people physically attend.

The event had been postponed from November last year due to the pandemic. But there has been growing pressure for it to take place virtually.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has said she does not plan to attend the Glasgow event and suggested it be put off again because of coronavirus. 

Mr Eustice told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘Well, we think it should be done in person, physically.


Climate activist Greta Thunberg (left) has said she does not plan to attend the Glasgow event being overseen by Alok Sharma (right) and suggested it be put off again because of the pandemic

‘There is a Cop secretariat or a Cop bureau that ultimately makes these final decisions but they do so in very close co-operation with the host country.

‘We delayed it obviously last year because we wanted it to happen in person. I think it’s much more effective if it does happen in person and that’s absolutely our intention.

‘There may be components of it that are part-virtual that some people attend virtually but we think for the main leader summit that it happens in person and that’s our intention.’

His comments echo those made by Cop President Alok Sharma, who said last week the Government is ‘working very hard’ to ensure the conference can go ahead in person. 

The summit is expected to bring together the largest gathering of heads of state ever hosted in the UK, alongside climate experts and campaigners, to agree a co-ordinated global action plan to tackle the climate emergency.

No 10 has said the UK is ‘using all international avenues’ to ask every nation to set ambitious emission-reducing targets in order to reach net zero carbon output by the middle of the century.

It comes as global leaders are to take part in a virtual two-day summit on climate change from April 22 headed by US president Joe Biden.

Mr Sharma, the Prime Minister’s climate change tsar, will travel to Japan this week to bolster support ahead of the environment conference.

He is set to meet Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga to advocate for strong climate policies and call on him to follow the UK’s lead in phasing out coal power.

Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted the Cop26 conference – due to happen in Glasgow in November – will be ‘much more effective’ if people physically attend

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