Switzerland drops out of race to host climate summit in 2026

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN secretary general Antonio Guterres greet Switzerland's president Guy Parmelin during arrivals at the Cop26 in Glasgow, Scotland, 1 November, 2021. (Credit: Keystone/AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

Switzerland is backing down from its bid to stage Cop31, clearing the path for Australia.

The Swiss federal council announced on Wednesday it would withdraw Switzerland’s application to host climate negotiations in 2026, arguing that Australia had far better chances of winning the bid.

Canberra had initially voiced its intentions to stage the UN climate conference in partnership with Pacific island states in 2024 but experts have said 2026 is a more realistic date, the Canberra Times reported, as the western European and other states group, of which Australia and Switzerland are part of, isn’t until then.

“Due to the strong impact that climate change has on these countries, the candidacy of these countries would have a better chance of being selected,” Bern said in a statement. “In addition, Australia has never organised a United Nations Climate Conference, unlike Switzerland.”

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Hosted each year by a different country since 1995, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), attracts between 25,000 to 40,000 participants. Egypt is hosting this year’s summit, while the United Arab Emirates have won the bid for 2023.

The Swiss authorities said in a statement that they had reviewed the opportunities and the risks of organising such a high profile event.

While the evaluation showed that it was feasible, it would come at an estimated cost of CHF 300 million. Bern said that instead of hosting a climate conference, it would seek to launch initiatives in partnership with another summit host on issues such as sustainable finance and carbon markets.

It said that it would consider the possibility of organising a climate summit in 10 years time, when the group of European and other states’ turn is up again.

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