IHA statement on UN climate conference and Covid-19

2 April 2020

The next United Nations climate conference (COP26), to be hosted by the UK government in November 2020, has been postponed due to the worldwide effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers have said.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA), an official observer organisation, recognises the need for this unprecedented decision, which will see the summit rescheduled to an as-yet-unconfirmed date in 2021.    

In a statement, IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich said: “Given the present global health and economic situation, the organisers of COP26 have made the right decision to postpone this year’s conference.

“While Covid-19 is our most pressing threat, with the tragic impacts on families everywhere requiring urgent action, we must not lose sight of the existential threat to the planet posed by climate change. The tireless efforts currently being deployed to beat Coronavirus show us that, in times of crisis, the seemingly impossible can quickly become possible.

“The worldwide response to Covid-19 will rely on government stimulus packages to kickstart national economies. These must be in line with the carbon reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement. Investing in clean energy infrastructure will support workers, families and communities today, while helping to secure our planet’s future.

“Governments, business and civil society stakeholders must now consider the policy frameworks required to support the green growth economy and prioritise vital public and private investment in sustainable and renewable energy projects. This will mean considering ways to incentivise finance and reduce barriers to development, while ensuring that new projects meet internationally recognised environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance standards.

“The hydropower sector, the largest contributor to total renewable electricity generation, will continue to play its part in providing climate change solutions. Sustainable hydropower will provide affordable, clean energy and will accelerate the adoption of other renewables, while safely managing freshwater supplies and protecting communities against floods and drought.

“Now, more than ever, collaboration and dialogue are needed to advance global sustainable energy and the transformation towards a low-carbon energy future. IHA, under the mandate given to us by our members to advance sustainable hydropower, will continue working vigorously with our members and partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle present and future threats.”

Read Eddie Rich's blog on how the hydropower sector is playing a critical role during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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