Boris Johnson battling to make sure landmark COP26 climate summit goes ahead in person as world battles Covid 3rd wave


BORIS Johnson is battling to make sure the landmark COP26 climate summit goes ahead in-person this year as Covid cases soar around the world.

Worried officials from the UN are said to be trying to force parts of the event online amid fears it could become a super-spreader event as attendees from 197 countries are expected to come.

Boris Johnson said he wanted to make sure the event happens in person

A Whitehall source told HOAR: “The UN are voicing concerns about doing it in person and Alok and the PM are fighting back hard.

“They don’t want it to be virtual but even if it’s not as big as previous COPs, they feel it must be done face-to-face.”

Around 30,000 people from around the world usually attend the summit, but the numbers are expected to be far lower this year over virus fears.

Insiders stressed ministers were working together with the UN and all the other partners to make sure the event happens as planned in person.

But one Government source said: “No other COPs have taken place in a pandemic.”

They added: “We know online works.”

It’s expected that the leaders’ discussions will definitely take place in person, but there are worries over whether the fringe events will be able to take place in full.

The Cabinet Office are “taking stock” of the situation and how the conference will be made safe at the moment, MPs were told yesterday.

Colin Edgar of Glasgow City Council said it was “hard to imagine” delegates having to quarantine for two weeks after they fly in – as the event is only intended to be 12 days.

And he said the City Council was already working closely with “testing vehicles and vaccination vehicles” – in a hint that they could be used at the summit if needed.

The COP summit will likely be the largest police operation since the 2012 Olympics in London, Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins of Police Scotland said.

The potential arrival of world leaders like US President Biden and Pope Francis could escalate the event significantly and would attract national and international attention, he warned.

£200million has been earmarked to protect the top brass – and to deal with rowdy protesters who are set to line the streets.

The PM admitted yesterday there were concerns over how to host the summit, telling MPs on the liaison committee: “The question now really is just to make sure that we can have a COP that is physical.

“I really think it would be a wonderful thing if by November, the UK can lead the world in all sorts of things, but actually have a summit that is a big global summit where everybody turns up. And everybody turns up without fear.”

President Biden is expected to attend the summit alongside other world leaders

The PM meeting Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry earlier this month

COP President Alok Sharma last month refused to rule out jabbing global leaders and their aides to lure them over to the Glasgow summit.

Speaking in the Commons he said: “Access to vaccines is not consistent globally and of course we’re going to work very hard to ensure that we have a safe and inclusive COP for all.”

He added: “The PM has recently made clear that we will send the majority of any future surplus to the COVAX scheme to support developing countries.” 

Britain has vowed to jab all Brits by the end of July, but then will have millions of spare vaccines left over.

The Cabinet Office review – set to report back by June – will look at how mass events like conferences may use vaccine passports or testing blitzs to go ahead safely.

It has promised to donate them to other countries around the world to help with their rollouts.

Chair of the Business committee, Darren Jones MP, told HOAR the PM must thrash out a plan with the UN to make sure no smaller countries miss out on their chance to attend – including dishing out vaccines where possible.

He said smaller nations mustn’t be muscled out by bigger ones like China who will try and use their might at the global gathering.

He said: “It’s crucial they are all there – the UN should take a lead on this

“Is there a way to ensure that delegations are vaccinated or tested to allow them to fully participate in COP?”

Alok Sharma answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus

Alok Sharma refused to rule out the idea of vaccinating delegates

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