The United Nations-sponsored climate negotiations this year, widely regarded as the most important climate meeting of the past four years, were postponed on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The session, known as the Conference of the Parties, was scheduled to take place in Glasgow for a week and a half in mid-November. It was postponed to 2021, confirmed the climate agency of the world organism and the host government, Great Britain, on Wednesday.
"In light of the continuing global effects of Covid-19, it is no longer possible to maintain an ambitious and inclusive COP26 in November 2020", the British government said in a statement.
The conference site in Glasgow, an arena where tens of thousands of delegates from around the world were supposed to meet, is being transformed into a field hospital for people with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Cowardly patients are also being accommodated at the Madrid Convention Center, where the Conference of the Parties took place last December; Spain has one of the biggest outbreaks in the world.
The decision to postpone this year's conference, known as COP26, because it is the 26th annual meeting of its kind, was taken at a virtual meeting of the rotating conference decision-making board.
The conference is vital to the world's ability to avert the worst effects of climate change, including fatal heat waves and flooded coastal cities.
It took more than 20 conferences for countries to negotiate the 2015 Paris Agreement framework, pledging to prevent global average temperatures from rising well below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to pre- industrial.
Countries have announced voluntary targets to control their greenhouse gas emissions. Even so, emissions are increasing and the world as a whole is about to heat up by more than 3 degrees Celsius, on average, an increase that, according to scientists, increases the likelihood of extreme weather events and sea levels rising to dangerous levels .
The conference scheduled for November was particularly important because the objective was to encourage countries to review and strengthen their greenhouse gas reduction targets, as required by the Paris agreement every five years.
Japan was the first of the seven richest countries in the world, the Group of 7, to quietly announce its revised target this week, which was effectively maintaining its original target.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Climate Change agency, urged governments to rebuild their economies after the pandemic, with climate goals in mind.
"Savings will soon begin again," she said. "This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in these plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in clean, green, healthy, fair, safe and more resilient ways."
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