UK looks set to host COP26 in partnership with Italy

The UK has formally proposed its intention to host next year's international COP climate conference as part of a partnership with Italy that will see the latter host a pre-COP event.

UK looks set to host COP26 in partnership with Italy

The partnership will form part of a wider strategic partnership focusing on climate change

As part of the proposal, the countries would assume the Presidency of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a unique partnership.

The UK will host the COP conference and Italy will host the pre-COP event, which includes a “significant youth event” to recognise the role of youth climate strikes in raising climate ambitions across Europe.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Today through great joint diplomacy we have agreed a bid for a UK COP26 Presidency in partnership with our friends in Italy. Together, through our continued commitment to work across Europe and internationally, we will build a better world for our children.”

COP26 will take place in 2020 – viewed by many as the deadline for the Paris Agreement to be fully implemented and adopted across the globe.

WWF’s head of climate change, Gareth Redmond-King, said: “This is a major opportunity for the UK to show international leadership, but if we are to credibly provide the world a platform to tackle the climate crisis, we must also make sure we are walking the talk here at home. By then, we must show that the UK is matching its ambition with real action.

“Our next Prime Minister needs to make responding to the climate and environment emergency – and delivering on our net zero targets – an immediate policy priority across government.  We can be the generation that stops climate breakdown.”

Both the UK and Italy are members of the High Ambition Coalition, the group of developed and developing countries dedicated to catalysing the highest levels of ambition during international climate talks. The Coalition was a driving force behind the creation and ratification of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

According to a statement from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the partnership will promote “tangible action that brings to life the transformational change required to unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement”.

Wider strategy

The partnership will form part of a wider strategic partnership focusing on climate change, with more intentions set to be outlined this year at COP25. It also creates a bridge for climate awareness amongst the G7, with the UK acting with concurrent presidency and Italy set to take up the position in 2021.

The Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Sergio Costa, said: “This partnership between Italy and the UK sends a strong signal of determined and informed cooperation on climate change, which is a theme that requires a change of paradigm and which will dominate our agenda and that of future generations.”

The bid comes weeks after the UK agreed a statutory instrument to amend the Climate Change Act of 2008 to account for a net-zero target by 2050.

Last week, Italy added its name to a growing list of EU countries supporting a carbon neutrality objective for 2050, as reported by edie’s content partner Euractiv.

Eighteen of the EU’s 28 members are now ready to support the European Commission’s proposed carbon-neutrality objective for 2050. EU leaders could give their blessing to a proposed long-term climate strategy during a European Council summit in Brussels, taking place Thursday and Friday (20-21 June).

Matt Mace

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