Global South climate activists doubt COP26 participation over vaccine delay


Developing-nation delegates to the key UN climate conference in Scotland have been promised access to a COVID-19 vaccine, but with only two months to go, time is running short

Mohamed Adow, a Nairobi-based African climate expert who has attended every annual U.N. climate conference since 2009, stressed that participants from so-called “red list” countries like Kenya – with high levels of COVID-19 infections – would be required to quarantine in hotels before attending COP26, whether vaccinated or not.

Many developing countries are on the red list for England and Scotland, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

The British government said in August it would relax some travel restrictions to help delegates attending COP26, including halving the standard quarantine period to five days for those from “red list” countries who have been vaccinated.

But “the costs (of quarantine) are beyond the reach of some poorer governments and smaller civil society organisations”, said Adow, who runs a think-tank called Power Shift Africa.

He urged the British government to pay the bill for required quarantine for participants.

…In recent months, British officials have insisted the COP26 summit will be “inclusive” and will push forward work on issues that are a high priority for poorer nations on the frontlines of climate change impacts, including finance and adaptation.

But African expert Adow said that, as things stand, he feared only governments and civil society organisations from rich countries would be able to attend in significant numbers.

“This flies in the face of the principles of the U.N. process,” he said. “A climate summit without the voices of those most affected by climate change is not fit for purpose.”

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