WORLD / CROSS-BORDERS
Pandemic impact may leave developing nations behind
NGOs call for delay of COP26
Published: Sep 08, 2021 08:23 PM
Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav (first right) meets with UN Climate Change Conference or COP26 President Alok Sharma (first left) in New Delhi, India on Wednesday during Sharma's three-day visit to India for discussions with ministers and leaders from the industry and civil society on collaboration on climate action. Photo: AFP

Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav (first right) meets with UN Climate Change Conference or COP26 President Alok Sharma (first left) in New Delhi, India on Wednesday during Sharma's three-day visit to India for discussions with ministers and leaders from the industry and civil society on collaboration on climate action. Photo: AFP



A global network of more than 1,500 climate NGOs called on Britain to postpone the upcoming COP26 summit, saying Tuesday that a lack of COVID-19 vaccines risked sidelining developing countries.

An increase in COVID-19 cases, unequal global vaccine rollout, and stringent quarantine requirements for more than 60 "red list" nations or territories hoping to attend the 12-day UN talks mean that "a safe, inclusive and just global climate conference is impossible," the Climate Action Network (CAN) said in a statement.

"We have concerns that those countries, most deeply affected by the climate crisis and suffering from the lack of support by rich nations in providing vaccines, will be left out," said Tasneem Essop, CAN's executive director.

"There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the UN climate talks and this is now compounded by the health crisis."

But the United Nations rejected the call to delay the COP26 summit.

"For now, no changes are planned, but we understand the concerns," UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said of the UN Climate Change Conference set to kick off on October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Host government Britain had also pushed back saying the climate crisis was too urgent for the meeting to be put off.

A recently released UN climate science report shows "why COP26 must go ahead this November to allow world leaders to come together and set out decisive commitments to tackle climate change," COP President Alok Sharma told AFP, noting the conference has already been postponed once.

"The global scientific community has made clear that climate change is now a global emergency," Haq said.

"Only an urgent and major step up in climate action can keep the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach, and protect the most vulnerable countries from worsening climate impacts."

He added that UN authorities are working with London "to make COP as safe and inclusive as possible, including offering vaccines to all participants and paying for hotel quarantine costs where quarantine is required." 

Civil society campaigners, who play a crucial watchdog role as registered observers, will also likely face restricted access, CAN warned.

AFP
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