Glasgow has been named as the UK’s candidate city to host the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – and Catholic groups have said hosting it would give the UK a chance to ensure world leaders live up to promises made in the landmark Paris Agreement.
If successful, the UK bid would see around 30,000 delegates gather in Glasgow over two weeks in 2020 for the conference, which will be held at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) on the banks of the River Clyde.
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) said hosting the event was a chance in a lifetime for the UK to put its own stamp on climate change reforms: “It is time for world leaders to live up to the promises they made in the Paris Agreement and commit to ambitious action to prevent a climate breakdown.”
Dr Daniel Hale, head of campaigns at CAFOD, told The Catholic Universe: “It’s no exaggeration to say that hosting this conference would give the UK the chance to set the tone for how the next century will turn out.
“These talks won’t ‘solve’ climate change, but they would put our country in a position to lead the world in properly mobilising the efforts needed to protect our common home, showing how countries which share the greatest responsibility for climate change can rapidly put the policies in place to halt it.”
“The work the government does between now and next December will influence whether the history books remember the conference as a turning point in the battle against climate change or another wasted opportunity. Immediately acting on the advice of the IPCC and Committee on Climate Change by restoring forests and making food production more sustainable, as well as ending the madness of spending UK aid on fossil fuels, will indicate how serious the government is about rising to the challenge,” Dr Hale added.
Former minister Claire Perry, nominated as a possible COP26 president, said: “As one of the UK’s most sustainable cities, with a record for hosting high-profile international events, Glasgow is the right choice to showcase the UK’s commitment to the environment.
“In 2020, world leaders will come together to discuss how to protect our planet and set the direction for the years to come.”
At COP21 in Paris in 2015, participating countries reached a landmark agreement to keep a global temperature rise this century below 2C above pre-industrial levels.
The UK Government said that, five years on, COP26 will be the first major test of the international community’s commitment to scale up efforts to reduce emissions.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government is showing great leadership on this vital issue – becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050.”
The Scottish Government wants to reach that target by 2045, and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said ministers are committed to taking action “that matches the scale of our climate ambitions”.
She said: “We have been supportive of the UK Government’s to host COP26 and are committed to working collaboratively to deliver an ambitious and effective conference.”
Picture: A Glasgow skyscape is seen reflected in the River Clyde. (Danny Lawson/PA).