Cop26: Vladimir Putin says he will not attend in person in setback for British event

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Vladimir Putin is set to attend the event remotely instead of in person – Vladimir Smirnov /TASS

President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the Cop26 climate conference in person, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, delivering a blow to hopes of a breakthrough international deal on climate change in Glasgow at the end of this month.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president would take part remotely, but the no-show by the leader of the world's fourth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is just the latest setback for the event, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also uncertain to attend.

Before the Kremlin's announcement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told investors on Tuesday there would be a good attendance at Cop26. “It looks like a lot of people are going to be able to come in person,” he said.

Britain, which hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or Cop26, in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, is seeking support from major powers for a more radical plan to tackle global warming.

The Kremlin had previously announced that Putin would not attend a Group of 20 summit in Rome in person this month due to concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He will also not fly to Glasgow, unfortunately,” Mr Peskov told reporters, saying other Russian representatives would go instead and Mr Putin would take part remotely.

“We need to work out in what format it will be possible (for Mr Putin) to speak via video conference, at what moment,” Mr Peskov said. “The issues that will be discussed in Glasgow right now form one of the priorities of our foreign policy.”

Russia is warming 2.8 times faster than the global average, with the melting of Siberia's permafrost, which covers 65 per cent of Russian landmass, releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

Mr Putin said last week Russia would strive to be carbon neutral no later than 2060. He said hydrogen, ammonia and natural gas were likely to play a larger role in the energy mix in coming years and that Russia was ready for dialogue on ways to tackle climate change.

It comes as Russia declared a non-working week to keep workers away from their offices as coronavirus deaths surged to another daily record.

The government task force on Wednesday reported 1,028 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. That brought Russia's total death toll to 226,353 which is by far the highest in Europe.

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