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Summit setback

Xi unlikely to attend COP26 as pessimism grows


China’s role in the talks is in jeopardy

President Xi of China is not expected to attend the COP26 summit in Glasgow as concerns grow that the event will fall short in re-setting the climate agenda.

Downing Street is said to have been told by Chinese diplomats that Xi will not join more than a hundred world leaders, including President Joe Biden who has confirmed his attendance at COP26 which runs from 31 October to 12 November.

Only half of the G20 countries have published new climate change targets, known as nationally defined contributions (NDC), ahead of the event, as required.

Some believe China is attempting to go its own way and is already setting its own goals. While the world’s second biggest economy is investing heavily in in renewables it also relies on coal for 55% of its energy needs and is expected to consume more as its economy grows.

China is currently responsible for 27% of global carbon emissions.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden: due in Glasgow

A source told The Times: “It is now pretty clear that Xi is not going to turn up and the PM has been told that.

“What we don’t know is what stance the Chinese are going to take. They could go to the G20 [summit in Rome on October 30-31] with new commitments but that is now looking less likely.

“The truth is that unless China comes with new commitments, we’re not going to be able to keep 1.5 degrees alive.”

A Whitehall official has said Xi Jinping’s absence may not mean the country does not make new proposals.

“Xi hasn’t travelled anywhere for years. He didn’t go to the UN general assembly [last month] and he isn’t going to the G20.

“Let’s see what China does rather than obsessing about who turns up.”

Xi did attend the Climate summit in 2015 in Paris, which committed to limit global warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

President Biden will be in Glasgow, although American climate envoy John Kerry expressed pessimism about the summit’s prospects.

“It would be wonderful if everybody came and everybody hit the 1.5 degrees mark now,” he said. “That would be terrific. But some countries just don’t have the energy mix yet that allows them to do that.”

Australia’s prime minister has withdrawn a threat to boycott the summit, describing the meeting as “an important event”.

Scott Morrison told journalists he was looking forward to attending.

However. Vladimir Putin might not attend, blaming concern over coronavirus.

The Queen, who will attend a reception at Cop26, caused a stir when she was overheard saying she was irritated by people “when they talk but they don’t do”, while she was discussing attempts to tackle climate change.

Her comments were caught by a microphone as she attended the opening of the Welsh parliament.

Strikes planned

Rail workers are expected to bring ScotRail and the overnight Caledonian Sleeper services to a standstill as they strike for two weeks during the COP26 conference.

Members of the RMT union voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

The announcement came alongside a ballot confirming strike action from refuse workers in Glasgow unless they receive an improved pay offer next week.

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