The COP26 climate talks have been postponed until 2021 amid the “unprecedented global challenge” of the coronavirus outbreak, ministers have announced.
Business secretary Alok Sharma, who had been picked by the government to head up the United Nations summit in Glasgow, confirmed the move as he promised to reschedule the gathering as soon as possible.
The COP26 event had been expected to attract 30,000 delegates from around the world, including heads of state, climate experts and campaigners.
It was billed as the biggest international summit ever hosted by the UK.
But the decision to pause the talks comes amid plans for the event’s venue, the Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow, to be turned into a temporary hospital to treat Covid-19 sufferers.
“The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting Covid-19,” Sharma said in a statement.
"That is why we have decided to reschedule COP26.
"We will continue working tirelessly with our partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and I look forward to agreeing a new date for the conference."
UN climate change chief Patricia Espinosa said: "Covid-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.
"Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.
"In the meantime, we continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement."
The COP26 postponement follows a wave of cancellations and delays to major world events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Euro 2020 football tournament.