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World leaders heading to Glasgow for Cop26 – but some key figures set to miss it

·2-min read

Scores of world leaders will gather in Glasgow for the crucial Cop26 climate summit – but the heads of some major polluting nations are set to skip the event.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior members of the Royal Family are heading to Glasgow for the key climate conference, which aims to drive more action on cutting emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will also be there.

The White House confirmed last week that US President Joe Biden will attend the world leaders summit at the beginning of the two-week Cop26 conference, after taking part in a meeting of G20 leaders in Rome.

Other leaders set to attend include Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia who is likely to face pressure over his country’s unambitious climate efforts, and EU heads of state, including France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Outgoing German chancellor Angela Merkel, who presided over the first “conference of parties or “Cop” under the UN climate treaty in 1995, is also thought to be likely to come to Glasgow.

But Chinese premier Xi Jinping, who has not left China since the beginning of the pandemic and who did not attend the UN General Assembly last month, does not look set to come.

G20 summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin with former PM Theresa May

And Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is not coming to the summit, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

The absence of leaders of countries which are among the world’s biggest polluters raises concerns about how much action the meeting will be able to drive, although those nations will be sending delegations for negotiations on key issues including how to increase ambition to keep climate goals in reach.

Quizzed in the Commons on Wednesday on whether a strong and prominent delegation would come to the talks from China, Cop26 President Alok Sharma said: “There will be a delegation coming from China.”

He added: “I was there in September, I had constructive discussions but China, along with every other country, needs to come forward with ambitious plans to cut emissions by 2030 before Cop26.”

Aside from world leaders, key figures due at the conference include Sir David Attenborough, activist Greta Thunberg and former US president Barack Obama.

But Pope Francis, who had been expected to travel to Scotland for the event, will not be attending, the Vatican has said.

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