David Cameron turns down role as head of COP26 in Glasgow

Former prime minister David Cameron has turned down an offer to be the president of COP26 in Glasgow.

Prime minister Boris Johnson offered Cameron the job of heading the UK’s preparations for the crucial international climate summit, but was rejected.

Glasgow is set to welcome 30,000 delegates, including 200 world leaders, to discuss the climate change emergency at the conference in November.

Former minister Claire O’Neill was sacked last month as president of the talks by Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings, leaving the role open.

The government said the post would be a ministerial role in future, but the prime minister refused to answer questions about who would take on the role during the launch of COP26 on Tuesday 4 February.

Lord Barker of Battle, who served as an energy minister under David Cameron, told BBC Two’s Newsnight that he believed reports that Cameron had been offered the role were correct.

“My understanding is that he felt it was just a little too soon for him personally to come back into a frontline political role,” he said.

Former Conservative leader William Hague is also believed to have turned down the role.

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) will stage the event in November 2020. Following a partnership with Italy, the United Kingdom won the bid to host the event, which is designed to produce a response to the climate change emergency. Glasgow will host the main conference with the preparatory and youth events being held in Italy.

Ahead of the conference, the prime minister announced that the UK’s phaseout of petrol and diesel vehicles will be brought forward five years to 2035 and the elimination of coal-fired power by one year to 2024, as well as reaffirming the commitment to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Speaking at the COP26 launch, Johnson said: “I hope that we can as a planet and as a community of nations get to net zero within decades.

“We’re going to do it by 2050, we’re setting the pace, I hope everybody will come with us. Let’s make this year the moment when we come together with the courage and the technological ambition to solve manmade climate change and to choose a cleaner and greener future for all our children and grandchildren.”

However, sacked summit head Claire O’Neill accused Johnson of showing a “huge lack of leadership and engagement” over COP26 and of not understanding climate change.

In a letter to the prime minister ahead of the launch, O’Neill said the UK was “miles off track” and “playing at Oxford United levels when we really need to be Liverpool” in terms of the effort to tackle the climate emergency.

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