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U.N. delays global climate talks amid coronavirus crisis

Most countries are far behind in meeting the national commitments they made as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the first global pact of countries to address climate change. The Glasgow conference was designed to ratchet up pressure on nations to reach those marks while simultaneously setting more ambitious goals.

“All members recognised the need to postpone both events in light of COVID-19 and welcomed the decision to fix a date for [the June talks in Bonn, Germany] ensuring momentum is maintained on global climate action and a venue can be secured,” said the internal note of the decision by the U.N.’s climate bureau.

The note added that the U.N. and the British government “agreed to work closely with the COP Bureau members over the next few weeks to identify a suitable date for COP26.”

The Bonn meeting will be shifted from June to October 4-13. The U.N. “will review the feasibility of this date by 4 August at the latest,” said the note.

As the coronavirus rattled countries around the world, it became clear that governments would be too stretched to focus on climate goals amid immediate public health and economic concerns.

Laurence Tubiana, the architect of the Paris agreement, called postponement “the right thing to do” and suggested nations consider climate outcomes in their eventual economic recovery plans.

“The UK Presidency and all Governments should use this time to design resilient recovery and transition plans that consider climate, biodiversity, development and social justice in an integrated way,” she said in a statement. “This crisis has shown that international cooperation and solidarity are essential to protect global well-being and peace.”

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