Britain pins global cooperation hopes on shared climate fears

LONDON (REUTERS) – Shared concern over climate change could help strengthen global cooperation more broadly in the run-up to a UN climate summit in November, its British president Alok Sharma said on Tuesday (Jan 26).

With the world struggling to cut planet-warming emissions fast enough to avoid catastrophic warming, diplomats fear that tensions in areas from US-China trade to debt relief for developing countries could hinder progress at the talks.

But the British hosts hope that growing awareness of the gravity of the threat might foster a wider spirit of collaboration in other policy areas ahead of the Glasgow summit, called COP26.

“2021 is absolutely going to be a critical year for climate,” Sharma told a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum. “I want to see the golden thread of climate action woven through every international event on the road to Glasgow.”

Key staging posts include a G7 summit in Britain in June and a Commonwealth meeting in Rwanda the following week, and a G20 summit in Rome in October.

US President Joe Biden’s move to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord shortly after taking office last week, and pledges by China, Japan and South Korea to target net zero emissions, have fostered renewed hopes of progress.

But diplomats say that developing countries might struggle to make ambitious climate pledges in November if they are disappointed by parallel negotiations on debt relief or by the aid pledged to help them cope with climate-related disasters.

“There should be scope to strengthen international coalitions around climate action, that can then be used to address other issues in climate-friendly ways,” said Alex Scott, who tracks climate talks at think-tank E3G.

“But a lot will depend on how far the UK can develop a shared agenda with developing countries,” Scott added.

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