Pledging to provide further action to tackle anxieties surrounding protection against coronavirus and “inclusiveness”, the UK is adamant that the Cop26 climate talks should go ahead in November as planned.
According to Green groups, the global disparity of vaccine uptake means that nations of the developing world will not be “fairly represented” at the summit in Glasgow.
The global climate action group, Climate Action Network (CAN), has called for Cop26 summit organisers to reschedule the summit, which is currently set to take place from 31 October to 12 November. The group is concerned about the inequality of vaccine use, the increase in coronavirus cases as well as the surge in prices for accommodation and travel.
CAN said: “It is evident that a safe, inclusive and just global climate conference in early November will be impossible.”
However, Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president-designate opposes CAN’s response. Sharma said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report “underlines why Cop26 must go ahead this November”. Climate Home News also reports that the Cop26 has already been set back by one year.
Sharma added: “We are working tirelessly with all our partners… to ensure an inclusive, accessible and safe summit in Glasgow with a comprehensive set of Covid mitigation measures.”
Representatives for the Cop26 who are coming from nations within the red list will have to stay in quarantine for five days if they have taken the vaccine. But if not, their quarantine period would last 10 days.
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Despite the temporary quarantine, CAN believes that a face-to-face summit is going to cause an absence of government representatives, journalists and campaigners, chiefly from red-listed poor countries.
Campaigners from the developing world, have stated in the past, that organising accommodation and travel to Glasgow was not possible until it was definite that they could get vaccinated and afford the cost of travel.
However, travel cost issues are being resolved. Sharma said that the total price of quarantine for Cop26 delegates from the developing world, who are from red-listed countries, will be paid for by the UK government (whether or not they have taken the vaccine). This coverage will be implemented provided that “quarantine stays” are scheduled through the Managed Quarantine Services (MQS). But the cost of this is yet to be confirmed, as a Cop26 team spokesperson would not give an estimate.
Sharma also said: “Ensuring that the voices of those most affected by climate change are heard is a priority for the Cop26 presidency, and if we are to deliver for our planet, we need all countries and civil society to bring their ideas and ambition to Glasgow.”
Government plans may also reduce anxieties surrounding the spread of coronavirus, resulting in greater access to the summit. This is because the UK government maintains that delegates from other countries will be provided with the vaccine, as well as those working in the media, government officials and campaign groups.
However, divisions between the rich and poor are a cause for concern for the director of Power Shift Africa, Mohamed Adow. Adow said: “If Cop26 goes ahead as currently planned, I fear it is only the rich countries and NGOs from those countries that would be able to attend. This flies in the face of the principles of the UN process and opens the door for a rich nations’ stitch-up of the talks.”
So whilst vaccination inequality and international travel costs are still a pressing issue across the world, the UK government is promising to support countries that are faced with such disadvantages. However, green groups are certain that a Cop26 postponement will flatten the curve of coronavirus infections and enable more delegates to join the summit. Additionally, the experience of campaigners who have previously attempted to travel to Glasgow is an evident problem and one which might not be resolved as quickly as the government claims.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com.— In the Featured Photo: Aerial (drone) view of Icebergs in the Arctic. Featured Photo Credit: Annie Spratt.