Energy firms are among leading businesses urging the Government to do everything it can to ensure the UK holds key international climate talks in 2020.
In a letter sent to ministers and opposition leaders, the bosses of companies including Centrica, ScottishPower, National Grid, Drax, BP and Shell said hosting the UN meeting would give the UK an opportunity to make the most of the shift to clean growth.
Separately, 162 MPs have signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, backing the move to host the talks, saying the country’s “strong record of leadership and ongoing commitment on climate change” makes it the ideal place to hold them.
The 2020 talks are seen as critical as they mark the full adoption of the global Paris Agreement on tackling climate change, secured in 2015, and the date by which countries are expected to come forward with stronger emissions cuts to meet the goals of the deal.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry revealed last December that she had officially written to express the UK Government’s interest in hosting the talks in 2020.
A decision on where in Europe to hold the “Cop26” talks at the end of next year is expected in June.
In the letter from the companies – which also include Affinity Water, Anglian Water, Capita, GKN Automotive, Heathrow Airport and innogy renewables UK, business bosses back the British bid to host the talks.
“Hosting Cop26 would provide the UK with a platform to further develop and maximise the opportunities of the global shift to clean growth and showcase to the world the best of the UK economy.
“It would be the country’s moment to build further support for an ambitious clean growth trajectory, underscore ambitions for a net-zero economy in line with the Paris Agreement, and set out the opportunity of economic renewal and enhancement through climate action.”
One of the signatories, John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid, said hosting the talks would let the UK send a message to the world that “we are proud to take the lead in the fight against climate change”.
“Our progress on clean energy has seen this country make international headlines; for example, when we recently went over a week without any coal generation for the first time since the 19th century. But we all need to do much more.
“This summit represents an opportunity to get the world to unite behind one of the most important challenges we all face and we look forward to working with the Government to bring COP to our shores,” he said.
Lead signatory of the letter from MPs, Labour and Co-operative MP Alex Sobel said: “Having just announced a climate emergency, MPs from across all parties in the UK Parliament are keen to see bold action taken on climate change.
“Cop26 is a key moment when the countries of the world will also be looking to cross divides to come together and build on their climate change pledges.
“With its diplomatic weight and having passed the World’s first Climate Change Act over 10 years ago, the UK is ideally placed to play this role, guiding even those less ambitious countries towards strong commitments.”