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France and UK say end the dispute or you will derail the Cop26 summit | Fishing industry

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Leading scientists and environmentalists have called on Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron to declare an immediate ceasefire in a bitter Anglo-French dispute over fishing rights, as fears grew that the UK’s arguments with its neighbors of the EU could eclipse the crucial COP26 summit on climate change.

On the eve of the UK’s hosting of 120 world leaders at the Glasgow meeting, the Prime Minister said the summit would be “the hour of global truth” and could mark “the beginning of the end of the world. climate change “. Speaking at a meeting of G20 leaders in Rome, he added: “The question everyone is asking is whether we seize this moment or let it slip away. “

But as the countdown continued, environmental groups and scientists were enraged by how the British and French governments clashed in a dispute over fishing rights, at a time when the UK also threatened to ” invoke Section 16 of the Northern Irish Law. in a move that could spark another trade war with the EU.

Johnson’s Brexit Minister Lord Frost on Saturday threatened to take action against France as he reacted with fury to comments from French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who said in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the UK had to be shown that it “causes more damage to leave the EU than to stay there”.

France and UK say end the dispute or you will derail the Cop26 summit |  Fishing industry

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Brexit Minister Lord Frost said the UK government “is actively considering initiating dispute settlement” if the arbitration fails. Photograph: Peter Byrne / PA

Frost said: “To see it expressed in this way is clearly very troubling and very problematic in the current context as we try to resolve many very sensitive issues, especially on the Northern Ireland Protocol. This is all the more true as the threats made by France this week to our fishing industry, to energy supply and to future cooperation, for example through the Horizon research program, are unfortunately part of the a pattern that has persisted for much of this year. “

The British government, according to Frost, “was actively considering initiating a dispute settlement procedure as defined in Section 738 [of the trade and cooperation agreement]”, Which could lead to the use of tariffs on French goods in the event of failure of the arbitration.

At the G20 in Rome, Johnson also shared his feelings with Von der Leyen, saying that French threats to block British exports in response to the dispute over fishing licenses were “totally unwarranted”.

When asked if he thought there had been any breaches of international rules by France, Johnson said: “I’m afraid there haven’t been. I’m looking at what’s going on here. moment, and I think we have to sort it out, but it’s quite frankly a small beer – insignificant compared to the threat to humanity we face.

But the heated discussions in Paris and London, on the cusp of a climate change summit considered by many to be the most important gathering of world leaders of all time, have sparked amazement within the scientific and environmental communities. .

Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, whose landmark government report in 2006 warned of the catastrophic results of delaying climate change action, said the UK and France must work together to tackle climate change rather than discussing a “relatively trivial” problem.

“There is a history of French and British leaders joining forces on climate change despite major political differences, like Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair after the Iraq war. And the two countries must also find a way to work with China on climate change, ”he said.

Chris Venables, politician of the environmental charity Green Alliance, added: “It is frankly ridiculous that this dispute could destabilize the start of Cop26. They should clarify this as soon as possible and quickly move on to the slightly more important issue of protecting the future of our planet. “

The Glasgow summit, which opens on Sunday, will determine whether hopes of limiting a rise in global temperature to below 1.5 ° C can be realized. Failure could trigger disastrous global warming, scientists have warned.

France and UK say end the dispute or you will derail the Cop26 summit |  Fishing industry

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A bushfire in Perth, Western Australia in February 2021. Photograph: Paul Kane / Getty Images

An overheated world would lead to catastrophic sea level rise, increasingly intense heat waves and long-lasting droughts that would leave tens of millions of people homeless and without food.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries will be involved in reaching a deal to prevent such scenarios – though climate experts have warned they now have very little leeway or time. Global average temperatures have already risen by 1.1 ° C since the industrial revolution and only strict reductions in emissions will prevent this increase from exceeding 1.5 ° C.

However, developing countries – infuriated by recent UK budget cuts – are expected to clash with richer countries over the funding the former say they should receive to help them introduce the green technologies needed to replace their coal and petroleum power plants. .

At the same time, the Arab states want to keep drilling for oil for as long as possible, while the Pacific island states – which could soon be wiped out by the rapid rise in sea levels – seek to quickly stop the extraction of oil. all fossil fuels. It will be the task of Boris Johnson and Cop26 president Alok Sharma to secure agreement between these competing groups.

Shadow Secretary Ed Miliband, who attended the Copenhagen summit in 2009 as UK climate minister, said that at the opening of the summit, “we are miles from where we need to be. be “in terms of national plans to curb global warming. “The fate of future generations depends on the fate of the next two weeks. “

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