Net Zero and UN Climate Summits: Scrutiny of Preparations for COP26 – interim report Contents


Our inquiry

1.In November 2021 the UK will host the 26th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP26). The Glasgow summit will be a critical moment in the international response to climate change; it is the first year since COP21, at which the landmark Paris Agreement was signed, that Paris signatories are due to present more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) climate pledges. Parliament, and select committees in particular, will play a unique role as they carry out scrutiny of the UK Government’s preparations for COP26 over the course of 2021.

2.The BEIS Committee is committed to taking a leading role in the scrutiny of the Government’s preparations for COP26. In March 2020 we announced a standing inquiry into Net Zero and UN Climate Summits, which we expect to last for the duration of this Parliament. This inquiry follows on from our predecessor Committee’s work in its Clean Growth Strategy and Outcomes of Bonn COP23 inquiries,1 in the previous Parliament.

3.As part of our current inquiry we held two evidence sessions over the last three months that specifically considered COP26 preparations and delivery. We specifically explored the aims and ambitions of COP26, key barriers for the summit and options for overcoming these.2 We heard from Claire O’Neill, former COP26 President (July 2019–January 2020), who expressed concerns about the Government’s preparations for COP26.3 Our work has been underpinned by a report completed for us by the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST) on expert views on COP26 principles and priorities.4

4.On 19 January we took oral evidence from the COP26 President, Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, on the Government’s progress on COP26 preparations, focusing on key areas including priorities for the summit, the Government’s diplomatic strategy, parliamentary and wider stakeholder engagement, covid-19 readiness, and the promotion of diversity and inclusivity at the summit.5 This short report follows up on key commitments made in that session, in particular the COP26 President’s plans to engage with Parliament over the next nine months. It also follows up on ongoing discussions around the UK delegation to COP26, covid-19 contingency measures and digital access to the summit, and on the UK Government’s intentions in relation to the sixth carbon budget.

1 Oral evidence taken on 28 November 2017, HC 596/597, and oral evidence taken on 16 July 2019, HC 871.

2 Oral evidence taken with Claire O’Neill, Pete Betts, Farhana Yamin, Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE, Dr Jennifer Allan on 1 December 2020, HC (2019–2021) 144 (transcript) and oral evidence taken with Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Peter Hill, Ros Eales, Archie Young, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Joanna Whittington, Jo Shanmugalingam, Ashley Ibbett on 19 January 2021, HC (2019–2021) 144 (transcript).

3 Qq73–78; Qq81–86

4 The Committee published its Fourth Special Report of Session 2019–21, COP26: Principles and priorities—a POST survey of expert views, HC1000 on 26 November 2020.

5 We also took evidence from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, on the newly published Energy White Paper. We are grateful to both for giving evidence to the Committee so soon after having changed roles, with the COP26 President having stepped back from his role as Secretary of State to focus exclusively on the COP26 Presidency and Mr Kwarteng having taken up the role of Secretary of State only two weeks prior to the session.

Published: 5 March 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement