• Which Countries Are Attending COP26?

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Which Countries Are Attending COP26?

Nov 05 2021

One year after it was initially scheduled to take place, the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is finally going ahead in Glasgow. Some 30,000 delegates representing 197 nations of the world are expected to be in attendance, with many heads of state and principal decision-makers making the trip.

But who, exactly, is on the guestlist – and who has decided not to come to Scotland for COP26? The list of no-shows is almost as significant as those who will be there. With that in mind, here’s a brief rundown through some of the biggest names at COP26, alongside those who are most conspicuous by their absence, as well.

In attendance

As host nations, the UK is of course sending Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alongside Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The other home nations (Wales and Northern Ireland) are sending their premiers, too, while other important figures like Prince Charles, Prince William and Sir David Attenborough are representing Great Britain at the talks.

Co-hosts Italy are sending their Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Environment Minister Roberto Cingolani, while other European heads of state like France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel are there. However, the EU is expected to negotiate as a whole, with Ursula von der Leyen and Frans Timmermans leading their team.

Further afield, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Glasgow and followed up the positive news that his country is expanding its air quality monitoring systems earlier this year with an early win for COP26 – the introduction of a 2070 target for India to become carbon neutral. US President Joe Biden, Australia’s Scott Morrison and current chair of the African Union Felix Tshisekedi, who is also President of the DRC, are also in attendance.

In absentia

One of the biggest names who has decided to give the event a miss is Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. That represents a major blow for COP26, since China is home to the world’s second biggest economy and is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet. Although the country has made encouraging steps in recent years – it spends more money on renewable energy research and development than anyone else, while it has also recently introduced a smart water monitoring system in Beijing – its absence means that any progress made in Glasgow must be qualified.

Vladimir Putin is another notable no-show. Over two-thirds of Russia’s energy is produced by combusting fossil fuels, while it’s also a significant extractor and exporter of those commodities. Deforestation, logging and the subsequent impact on wildlife are other major concerns in the country.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is another world leader who has not made the journey to Scotland. With a substantial proportion of the Amazon Rainforest within his country’s territory, Bolsonaro has overseen an alarming campaign of deforestation and destruction during his tenure. However, there was some positive news early on in the conference when it was announced he had agreed to an international pact to reverse deforestation efforts by 2030 at the latest.


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