OTLEY'S MP Alex Sobel has met with Pope Francis and the US leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi as preparations for the UN Climate Conference ramp up.

In April Mr Sobel was selected by the British Group Inter- Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) as its COP26 Rapporteur. Working with Alessia Rotta, the Italian appointed Rapporteur, the MP for Leeds North West will lead the engagement of parliamentarians in meetings in the lead-up to and at the COP26 due to take place this November in Glasgow. The UK and Italy are joint presidents of this year’s conference.

Parliament is currently on recess for conference season. Following the Labour Party’s conference last week, Mr Sobel travelled by train to Rome where he has met with parliamentarians across the globe including Nancy Pelosi, US Speaker of the House of Representatives. He also had an audience with Pope Francis and addressed international speakers of parliaments in a speech.

In his closing remarks in Rome Mr Sobel urged his fellow parliamentarians to fully engage with the conference described as ‘our last best chance.’

He said: "We need to utilise all the influence in our collective Parliaments not just to reaffirm and set the track for 1.5C but all the effects of a warming planet including disease, habitat and biodiversity loss, climate migration, flooding, wild fires, loss of small island states, falling and failing crop yields and much more which will make our planet uninhabitable.”

Speaking afterwards he said: "It is a huge honour and privilege to represent the UK Parliament as Rapporteur for COP26. Having an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis was humbling and shows how seriously climate change is now being taken as an issue.

"It is imperative that this COP produces meaningful commitments from the international community to reduce carbon emissions, reboot our green economy and ensure the future of our planet for generations to come.”

Pope Francis implored the delegation to act for future generations and protect our “common home”.

He said “To meet this challenge, everyone has a role to play. That of political and Government leaders is especially important, and indeed crucial. This demanding change of direction will require great wisdom, foresight and concern for the common good: in a word, the fundamental virtues of good politics. We owe this to the young, to future generations.”

Mr Sobel is Chair of the Net Zero APPG and previously served on the Environmental Audit Committee as Vice-Chair.