Claire O’Neill tells of sadness at losing climate talks presidency

  • Claire O’Neill tells of sadness at losing climate talks presidency

Claire O’Neill tells of sadness at losing climate talks presidency

The November summit in Glasgow is seen as the most crucial round of United Nations climate negotiations since the Paris Agreement was created in the French capital in 2015. She suggested the United Kingdom government "can't cope" with an independent Cop team, which wasn't led by a minister.

Ms Perry O'Neill (left) said she was "very sad" that the role had been "rescinded" by the Prime Minister although no official reason was given for her removal.

It couldn't "cope" with an independent unit managing preparations for the conference, she said.

She said: 'A shame we haven't had one Climate cabinet meeting since we formed.

A statement from the cabinet office said O'Neill's replacement would hold the rank of minister - suggesting the government wanted to centralise control of the event, which is expected to be attended by thousands of delegates.

'Preparations will continue at pace for the summit, and a replacement will be confirmed shortly.

At the same time Whitehall sources alleged there had been personality clashes in the COP26 team and indicated Number 10 was keen to see either a current senior Minister or a figure with more diplomatic experience installed in the high profile role.

This will come as a shock to numerous business and environmental groups working with her in the run-up to the summit.

But Mrs O'Neill, who stood down as an MP at the election, will now be replaced by a serving minister.

O'Neill confirmed her departure from the top climate role late on Friday, in a statement from her official COP26 President Twitter account which appeared to take a swipe at the UK's climate planning under the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Much now will depend on who replaces Mrs O'Neill.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a London-based non-profit think tank, said the government still had to show it could get on track to meet its own target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. "Arguably that's more important - no doubt one of the real stars of the #ParisAgreement was Laurent Fabius, steeped in diplomacy but not, prior to 2015, in climate change". "For a successful outcome you want the person presiding over the negotiations to be someone with genuine political power, who can fully represent the United Kingdom government and "knock heads together" to ensure real progress is made".

"It's a change of personnel, but the key tasks before the United Kingdom government remain the same - get the worldwide diplomacy right, and make sure the United Kingdom is demonstrably on track to its own net zero target well before the summit opens so it's "walking the walk" on its climate leadership claims", Black said. With Claire O'Neill not even being an MP that was always going to be a challenge.