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U.N. cancels key meetings ahead of climate summit due to coronavirus

The United Nations has canceled meetings in Bonn, Germany, and elsewhere planned in the run-up to a crucial U.N. climate summit to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November due to the coronavirus outbreak, an official said on Friday.

“This exceptional measure aims to contain the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health and safety of participants attending UNFCCC meetings in Bonn and elsewhere,” said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The UNFCCC secretariat will not hold any physical meetings in Bonn or elsewhere between March 6 and the end of April, she said in a statement.

The Glasgow summit in November is expected to be the most important round of climate negotiations since the 2015 Paris agreement was reached.

Concerns over the spread of coronavirus has led to the cancellation of dozens of major global events. Earlier this week, organizers canceled the CERAWeek energy conference, one of the biggest global gatherings of oil ministers and top executives in Houston.

Jennifer Tollmann, a policy adviser with international climate change think tank E3G, said the upcoming meeting that had been due to take place in Bonn in March was a highly technical preparatory session, which should be easier to conduct via videoconference than a much larger meeting due to take place in Bonn in June.

“If they cancel the June meetings, though, that would be a bigger (but not huge) issue for COP26 and the UK,” Tollmann said, referring to the acronym for the climate summit and its host.

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