Covid-proofing Cop26 is a test of solidarity – Climate Weekly

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A delivery of Covid-19 vaccines arrives in a cold storage box, Canada (Pic: Flickr/Province of British Columbia)


After the UK’s early failings in pandemic response, the government bet big on vaccines – and it paid off. One in three Brits have had their first dose, paving the way for national restrictions to end in the summer.

But there’s nothing like hosting an international summit to highlight the limitations of vaccine nationalism. Up to 30,000 delegates are expected to attend Cop26 in November, from all corners of the world – including countries that have yet to inject a single shot.

If Glasgow is not to become the locus of a superspreader event, those delegates will need vaccines. For negotiators from developing countries, this is a test of solidarity.

Alok Sharma maintains the negotiations will be inclusive and held in person. Climate Home News keeps asking organisers how they’re going to make that happen, safely. They say they are exploring scenarios. For now, we can only speculate on what those are.

It is conceivable that vaccine access could be tied into the accreditation process for Cop26, with jabs administered through UK embassies. That would be the most targeted way to ensure herd immunity in the walls of the Scottish Event Campus – but vaccinating a jetsetting elite before frontline healthcare workers might not go down well in poor countries.

Civil society groups are calling on the UK to take a more visible stance on vaccine solidarity in general. Practical measures could include redistributing surplus supplies and waiving patents.

Whatever the strategy, it is about time to start sharing details.

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