The UK will host key United Nations climate talks in Glasgow in late 2020, the Government has said.
The meeting is the most important round of UN talks since the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was secured in two weeks of negotiations in the French capital in 2015.
News that the UK had won formal international backing to host the “Cop26” meeting has been welcomed by campaigners, who urged the Government to take a lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
As joint hosts with Italy, the UK will host the “Cop26” meeting, which is due to be in Europe next November, while Italy will host a “pre-Cop” event in the run-up to the talks.
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The UK has been officially backed by the group of countries responsible for nominating the 2020 host, and the nomination is set to be formally accepted at December’s Cop25 summit in Chile, the Government said.
Next year’s talks mark the full adoption of the Paris Agreement and the date by which countries are expected to come forward with stronger emissions cuts to meet the goals of the deal.
Plans submitted so far by countries are putting the world on a pathway towards more than 3C of warming, though the Paris Agreement commits them to curb temperatures to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The UK has just received a huge vote of confidence from our international partners.
“We’re poised to host the next major global climate negotiations, in partnership with Italy.
“Over 30,000 delegates from around the world will come together to commit to ambitious action to tackle climate change.
“We’re ready to bring the world together to make sure we leave our precious environment in a better state for our children.”
Claire Perry, UK nominated president for Cop26, said: “In 2020, world leaders will come together to discuss how to tackle climate change on a global scale – and where better to do so than Glasgow, one of the UK’s most sustainable cities with a great track record for hosting high-profile international events.”
Scottish Government Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “It is right that this conference should come to Scotland given our leadership in climate action.
“Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to acknowledge the global climate emergency and the Scottish Government has introduced the toughest targets in the UK to ensure our action matches the scale of our climate ambitions.”
The backing to host the event comes after the UK strengthened its legal goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with a new target to reach “net zero” emissions by mid-century becoming law in the summer.
But concerns have been raised, including by the Government’s own advisory Climate Change Committee, that the UK is off track to meet its targets and significantly more action is needed to cut emissions from homes, power generation, transport and agriculture.
Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s global climate lead, backed the news that the “historic” meeting was taking place in the UK.
She said: “For it to be a success, the UK needs to walk the talk and increase its own near-term targets reducing its emissions rapidly and radically.
“The UK further needs to develop a holistic plan to achieve its own legally-binding goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”
And she said: “Internationally, the UK needs to make sure that it is doing its fair share to support developing countries through finance and providing them with sustainable technologies like wind and solar.”
Clara Goldsmith, director of The Climate Coalition, which consists of groups ranging from the National Trust to WWF and Islamic Relief, said: “Over the next 18 months, the world’s eyes will be on us just as widespread public pressure to act on climate change grows – this is the perfect opportunity for the UK Government to put its money where its mouth is.”
The announcement comes ahead of a summit in New York when UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres will urge leaders to boost ambition and speed up action to curb the emissions driving rising global temperatures.
Global climate “strikes” will be held on Friday September 20, ahead of the summit, with workers and protesters supporting young people walking out of lessons and lectures to call for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.