LONDON-A major United Nations climate change summit will take place in Glasgow if a bid to attract the event to the UK is successful, it has been announced.

The UK and Italy have lodged a joint bid to host the 26th Conference of the Parties, known as COP26. While Turkey is still in the running for the event, the UK is now seen as the clear favourite. It has been proposed that the UK would host the main conference, with a preliminary meeting held in Italy. If that bid is successful, the event would take place at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) at the end of 2020. Up to 30,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference. A decision on the location for the UN conference, which has been described as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, is expected later this year.

Former energy minister Claire Perry, who is the UK-nominated president for COP26, said: “As one of the UK’s most sustainable cities, with a record for hosting high-profile international events, Glasgow is the right choice to showcase the UK’s commitment to the environment. “In 2020, world leaders will come together to discuss how to protect our planet and set the direction for the years to come.”

Lasting for two weeks, it would be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, with up to 200 world leaders expected to attend for the final weekend.

Lang Banks, director at WWF Scotland, said: “This will be a vital milestone in the global response to the growing climate crisis.

The fossil fuel era began in Scotland and in 2020 the global community must come to Glasgow and say that this will be the last fossil fuel generation and that we are ready to take on the climate and nature emergencies we face.

“This would be a huge event and the Scottish and UK governments must be ready to show that we have our own houses in order and have strong climate emergency plans in place.”

Aid agency SCIAF described the summit as an “incredible opportunity”.

The charity’s advocacy manager Dr Geraldine Hill said: “At SCIAF we see every day that climate change is driving people deeper into poverty.