Ministers dampen expectations before COP26 climate summit: George Eustice says it will be ‘difficult to get progress’ as Xi Jinping says he WILL take part but only by video link and dashes hopes of breakthrough by restating old climate goals

  • Sunday sees the UN COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow
  • World leaders will meet to discuss ways to reduce harmful emission.
  • Environment Secretary George Eustice stated that it would be difficult to make progress. 
  • China has lost all hope of major breakthroughs after it reaffirmed its climate goals
  • President Xi Jinping will not be able attend summit in person, but will speak via a video link

Today George Eustice, a leading climate change expert, warned that it would be difficult to achieve progress at the crucial COP26 summit. This comes amid growing fears that the gathering will fail to deliver a major breakthrough. 

The Environment Secretary admitted that he is anxious about whether the summit will be able to ‘get things moving’ in Glasgow when it begins on Sunday. 

China confirmed that President Xi Jinping would not be present at the meeting but will speak via video link to his counterparts. 

China, however, has scuttled any hopes of significant progress at the summit. It had previously recommitted its climate goals but failed to set any new ones. 

China is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. Its formal submission to COP26 reiterated its goal of achieving ‘carbon neutrity’ by 2060, despite other countries urging Beijing to do more. 

China confirmed President Xi Jinping will not be attending the meeting in in person but will address his counterparts via video link

China confirmed that President Xi Jinping will not attend the meeting in person but will speak to his counterparts via videolink

Downing Street prepared for the summit, due to get underway in Glasgow on Sunday, by lighting up a green arch over the famous Number 10 door

Downing Street prepared the summit, which is due to start in Glasgow on Saturday, by lighting up a green ar over the Number 10 entrance 

The summit will be held from October 31 through November 12. Its main purpose is to convince countries to take action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Boris Johnson previously praised COP26 for being a significant moment, stating that in September, ‘this is my most important period in history of the planet – because COP simply must win’. 

However, expectations are now being dampened. The Prime Minister stated earlier this week that it will be a matter of “touch and go” whether any progress is made. 

Sky News spoke to Mr Eustice about the difficulties involved in negotiating big changes at large events attended by many countries. 

He said: ‘These events, because they are big, multi-lateral events with many countries, it is often difficult to get progress.

‘We have been working incredibly hard though on our agenda which is getting more countries to commit to net zero by the middle of the century, getting commitments on decarbonising transport, particularly electrification of cars.

‘And in my case working quite hard on a package around forests, mobilising finance and getting agreement on reducing and halting the net loss of forests around the world.

‘So I am optimistic about these agendas. However, you can get anxious about the outcome of certain agreements or things being completed in the final days.

‘There is more to be done at the actual summit itself. It is touch and go, but I am optimistic.

Mr Johnson said on Monday that he was ‘worried’ the COP26 summit could end in failure. 

The Prime Minister said that while a deal could be reached between world leaders to reduce harmful emissions, it would be difficult.

Johnson stated that he was concerned about the UN summit ‘going wrong’ and that it would be ‘touch-and-go’ whether an agreement could be reached. 

The UK has outlined a plan to achieve net zero emission by 2050 and is encouraging other countries to follow its lead.  

The PM’s remarks were made after reports last Thursday that Alok Sharma (the COP26 President) was furious with Johnson for calling the summit a make-or-break moment for the planet.   

It was claimed that Mr Sharma was ‘raging’ at the PM for building up expectation amid Cabinet fears that it could become a ‘damp snake’. 

Some ministers felt that the Government’s message before the summit was too bullish and ‘completely out-of-control’. Allies of Mr Sharma denied that he was angry about the PM.