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Britain’s energy bosses back UK bid to host key 2020 climate talks

Bosses at the UK’s leading energy firms are urging the Government to ensure the UK is picked as the venue for key international climate talks in 2020.

Britain is bidding to host the UN climate change conference next year, the biggest since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015

Under UN rules the COP (Conference of the Parties) next year should be hosted by a European nation and take place in the first year the Paris agreement would come into full effect.

The conference will mark a crucial deadline for countries to comply with their commitments in Paris on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and move on to tougher targets for the decade to 2030.

If successful, the move would be a strong signal of the UK government’s determination to retain its role on the world stage after Brexit.

‘Strong record of leadership’

In a letter to ministers and opposition leaders, the bosses of companies including Centrica, ScottishPower, National Grid, Drax, BP and Shell said hosting the UN meeting would give the UK an opportunity to be seen as a green leader.

In addition 162 MPs have signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, saying the country’s “strong record of leadership and ongoing commitment on climate change” makes it the ideal place to hold them.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry revealed last December that she had officially written to express the UK Government’s interest in hosting the talks in 2020.

A decision on where in Europe to hold the “Cop26” talks at the end of next year is expected in June.

‘Maximise the opportunities’

The UN awards the hosting of the COP usually by alternating among developed and developing countries, and different continents, though the rules can be flexible

In the letter from the energy giants – which also include Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Capita, GKN Automotive, Heathrow Airport and Innogy Renewables UK, business bosses back the British bid to host the talks.

“Hosting Cop26 would provide the UK with a platform to further develop and maximise the opportunities of the global shift to clean growth and showcase to the world the best of the UK economy.

“It would be the country’s moment to build further support for an ambitious clean growth trajectory, underscore ambitions for a net-zero economy in line with the Paris Agreement, and set out the opportunity of economic renewal and enhancement through climate action.”

One of the signatories, John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid, said hosting the talks would let the UK send a message to the world that “we are proud to take the lead in the fight against climate change”.

“Our progress on clean energy has seen this country make international headlines; for example, when we recently went over a week without any coal generation for the first time since the 19th century. But we all need to do much more.

“This summit represents an opportunity to get the world to unite behind one of the most important challenges we all face and we look forward to working with the Government to bring COP to our shores,” he said.

Lead signatory of the letter from MPs, Labour and Co-operative MP Alex Sobel said: “Having just announced a climate emergency, MPs from across all parties in the UK Parliament are keen to see bold action taken on climate change.

“Cop26 is a key moment when the countries of the world will also be looking to cross divides to come together and build on their climate change pledges.

“With its diplomatic weight and having passed the World’s first Climate Change Act over 10 years ago, the UK is ideally placed to play this role, guiding even those less ambitious countries towards strong commitments.”

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