2020 was going to be the year the Paris Agreement on climate change faced its first test.
The coronavirus pandemic has even would-be climate leaders begging for an extension.
We have previously reported on how poorer countries will struggle to develop strengthened climate plans by the UN deadline, as they turn their attention to the health crisis. There is little sign of enthusiasm for heightened ambition from China, in the absence of US pressure.
It’s increasingly clear the UK hosts of the next climate summit, Cop26, are not likely to come up with the goods in time either. In a statement, they would only say they planned to publish the plan “well ahead of Cop26”.
Nor will there be any progress this year on the last, stubborn rules for implementing the Paris Agreement, after UN Climate Change bowed to the inevitable and postponed interim negotiations again.
Arguably, it is better to submit robust plans in 2021 than rush out weak ones in 2020. There is an opportunity to channel coronavirus recovery funds into building green, resilient economies.
But with 2020 turning into a multilateralism vacuum, there is a risk bailing out cash-strapped airlines and oil companies will take priority over long-range global efforts.
The atmosphere is unmoved by human excuses. Witness the 38C record high temperature in the Siberian Arctic.
This week’s stories
UK aid worries
The UK government has made assurances its international climate finance pledge still stands, amid sharp cuts to the general aid budget and departmental restructuring.
There has also been some backpedalling of the prime minister’s suggestion aid should be directed to Ukraine over Tanzania.
Yet many questions remain over the future of climate finance in a new department guided by Britain’s strategic interests.
Quote of the week
“Those with access and resources have been focused on solar panels and polar bears for way too long” – Lindsay Harper, national coordinator of the Arm in Arm anti-racist climate initiative