The Paris Agreement target to limit the average rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C could be unreachable if COP26 fails, a new report finds.
The Foreign Affairs Committee suggests the climate summit is a key moment in the world’s response to climate change and could establish a new era of transformational diplomacy.
However, the committee notes there are still pandemic-related uncertainties that could create logistical challenges for COP26.
The body recommends the government needs to outline its plans in the case that Covid-19 restrictions between countries are still in place and the number of attendees will be limited.
It is estimated 30,000 delegates would usually be expected to attend a COP – this year, the committee suggests there is a ‘distinct’ possibility that large parts of the summit will have to be moved online or downscaled.
As a result, MPs have called the government to set out the criteria it will use to decide whether COP26 can go ahead as an in-person conference.
Tom Tugendhat, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said: “Diplomacy has a critical role to play in the coordinated effort against climate change, and the annual COP summits provide a moment to bring world leaders and experts together to assess the continuing challenges and pace of progress.
“Though COVID has changed plans across the world, and for some, shortened horizons, the need for a strategic outlook and more radical thinking has never been more important.
“The way we trade, travel and interact is so different from only 18 months ago that we must rethink the traditional diplomatic jamboree.”
A COP26 spokesperson said: “We have set out a clear strategy and published objectives for what we want to achieve at COP26, including in a recent written ministerial statement.
“As COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma has an ambitious programme of international engagement to secure the commitments we need, particularly around action over the next decade as the most critical period to turn the tide on climate change.
“He is in Japan today as part of that agenda.”