The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) officially announced on May 29 that its 26th Conference of the Parties (COP-26), originally scheduled for November 9-19, 2020, has been rescheduled for November 1-12, 2021. The extravaganza will still be hosted by the British government in sunny Glasgow, Scotland. The big pre-COP summit meeting scheduled for this summer in Italy will now also be postponed till next summer.
It will be interesting to see how the various special interests in the climate-industrial complex react to the delay. Reuters collected a number of initial reactions here. The tens of thousands of diplomats, NGO delegates, and reporters who attend these annual meetings will no doubt be disappointed to miss the glamor and excitement that comes from one of the highlights in their annual social calendars. On the other hand, they will be able to take satisfaction in the thousands of tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions.
Perhaps less satisfying will be the realization that although the COP has been postponed, the provision in the 2015 Paris climate treaty that each party must make a more ambitious commitment in 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not postponed.
For those who keep insisting that we must take immediate action to save the planet from global warming, this must come as a shock. And will shock lead to anger? For instance, will Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who announced on January 21, 2019 that we only had 12 years to live unless we took radical action (that is, the Green New Deal), be as angry with the UNFCCC as she is with President Trump?
Those of a mildly cynical cast might remind us that the principal outcome of every COP is the announcement at the end that their negotiations to save the world have made so much progress that they will meet again next year to continue their negotiations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the negotiations make just as much progress without a COP in 2020 as with a COP in 2021. Either way, we can still look forward to November 4, 2020. Thats the day the Trump administration’s official withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate treaty takes effect.