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UK says it’s ‘on track’ to vaccinate all delegates ahead of COP26 as inclusivity fears persist

Written by on 02/09/2021

The UK is “on track” to vaccinate all COP26 attendees who need it ahead of the talks in Glasgow in November, a spokesperson has said.

This year’s UN climate change summit has been called the world’s last chance to tackle runaway climate breakdown.

As host, the UK pledged to provide COVID-19 vaccines to any country representatives, media or observers who would not otherwise have access in time.

So far 27% of the world’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Sky News had spoken to civil society organisations around the world who were concerned that, with little over eight weeks before the talks commence, few had received a single vaccine dose or much communication about the process.

A COP26 spokesperson has now confirmed first doses of AstraZeneca will commence from next week. In the case of AstraZeneca or any other double dose vaccine, second doses will follow in mid-October, allowing a two-week period for the vaccine to kick in before the recipient travels to Glasgow.

They said the UK’s offer to vaccinate COP26 attendees was “part of a wider package of measures we will have in place to be able to host a safe COP26 with in-person participation”.

More on Cop26

Yet many remain concerned about inclusivity at the climate talks, which are designed to give all 196 countries involved, rich or poor, large or small, an equal voice.

“There is a lot of disquiet and concern amongst Global South participants – including delegates – about participation and access generally beyond vaccines – including around quarantining costs and general high costs in Glasgow,” said Sara Shaw, climate justice co-coordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

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Daily Climate Show: COP26 under threat?

So far the UK has said it will relax travel restrictions “exceptionally for COP26 as a UN event”, with those from red list countries who are fully vaccinated required to self-isolate in hotels for a reduced period of five days, and all vaccines recognised.

But Adrian Martinez, director of La Ruta Del Clima in Costa Rica, said quarantine costs would still be “unaffordable for most Latin American NGOs and even some country delegations”.

“If quarantine is needed, it should be enforced equally and financial support must be provided. If not, it is a structural barrier that will keep the Global South excluded from the 1.5°C negotiations. This is unjust.”

Financial and access barriers already hindered equal participation at COP meetings even under normal circumstances, with some countries able to send bigger, better sourced and more representative delegations than others, according to a joint letter to the UK presidency and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which convenes the talks.

Climate Action Network (CAN) is the official focal point and co-convenor of environmental NGOs in UN climate negotiations, comprising more than 1,500 civil society organisations in more than 130 countries.

A CAN spokesperson told Sky News: “If, as the UK COP26 president has said, this COP is indeed the last chance to keep 1.5C on the horizon, delegates of those countries most impacted by the climate emergency and with the least resources to cope with escalating impacts, will need to lead on conversations and be present to advocate for their communities.

“Their in-person involvement in decision-making based on their lived experience is imperative.”

The UK is soon due to release travel and quarantine arrangements for delegates.

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.

 Sky News

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