Unequal vaccine rollout threatens inclusivity of Cop26, climate diplomats warn

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Climate diplomats in developing countries and civil society groups have warned that slow vaccine rollouts in poorer nations threaten the inclusivity of negotiations at the Cop26 summit in November.

The UK host to the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, has repeatedly said it is planning for the UN climate talks to be held in person while continuing to monitor the Covid-19 situation. Prior to the pandemic, the event was expected to involve 30,000 delegates.

“I’m very keen to champion the voices of developing nations. It’s an important reason why we want to make sure that the event in Glasgow is a physical event so they can sit at the same table,” Cop26 president designate Alok Sharma told British lawmakers on Thursday (March 11).

For in-person talks to take place, all delegates will need to have been vaccinated and robust and repeated testing will have to be carried out before, during and after the summit, according to Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh and an adviser to the Covid-19 committee of the Scottish Parliament.

“Without vaccines for delegates, we could end up creating a global superspreader event in Glasgow,” warned Mohamed Adow, director of Nairobi-based NGO Power Shift Africa.

Less than eight months ahead of Cop26 – the first test for nations to increase their climate ambition under the Paris Agreement – stark inequities in accessing Covid-19 vaccines is testing the international solidarity on which the climate talks are based.

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