A successful Cop26 is essential for Britain and the world. Here's how it can happen

(The Guardian, 23 Mar 2021) Without a clear plan for what he wants to achieve, Boris Johnson risks becoming a bystander at a crucial world summit.

In November Boris Johnson will host the most important global meeting ever to take place on UK soil. The outcomes of this UN summit on climate change, known as Cop26, will help shape the fates of billions of people for decades to come. For the UK it is also the first big stress-test of its new role in the world after leaving the EU.

Superficially the chances of success appear high. The US, China, EU, UK and 97 other countries have now stated that by mid-century their overall emissions of carbon dioxide will be zero. The economics are aligned: coal, oil and gas companies are increasingly poor performers, while renewables companies are booming. The escalating costs of climate emergency coupled with the increasingly obvious benefits of an energy transition are rapidly altering the calculus of what is possible.

But a closer look suggests the chances of success may be substantially slimmer. The Glasgow summit is the first to take place after the landmark Paris agreement has come into effect. These are the first talks of a new era. Formally there is only one modest part of the Paris agreement, on carbon markets, still left to negotiate – agreement here will do little to drive down carbon emissions. Unlike past UN talks, the possibilities of what this summit can achieve are wide open. The bad news is the UK government still has no clear plan for what Cop26 should do.

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The Guardian, 23 Mar 2021: A successful Cop26 is essential for Britain and the world. Here's how it can happen