Following yesterday’s postponement of the UN’s Climate change conference COP26–originally scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November–and the announcement by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Vice Chancellor of Strathclyde University, says:

“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, postponing COP26 was the only possible decision at this stage in the preparations for such a major summit involving up to 30,000 attendees from all over the world. Both the UK and Scottish governments obviously have a monumental task in responding to the rapidly evolving pandemic and must devote all possible resources to dealing with that at the current time.

“While it is very disappointing for the huge team in Glasgow who have been making preparations so far, the health and safety of all involved in organising and delivering the summit is the absolute priority for the organisers. The groundwork already completed will be invaluable once the event is rescheduled.

“COVID-19 has already taught the world many lessons, not least exposing our essential infrastructure and its myriad interdependencies to scrutiny. It has also demonstrated how quickly government, academia and industry can work together to address challenges and solve problems during a global emergency and collaborating with common purpose. I hope we can learn from our rapid behavioural, cultural and economic change in the face of a global pandemic and bring the same spirit of unity and action to the ongoing task of tackling climate change.

“Indeed, engineers have a vital role to play in creating systems and solutions to address both COVID-19 and the climate crisis. As we move towards restarting our economy we will have an excellent opportunity to reassess our goals as a society and to redouble our efforts to drive low-carbon innovation and create sustainable businesses.”


Further information on the Academy’s current response to COVID-19 can be found here:

Academy responds to novel coronavirus and calls for ideas