Vaccines for climate negotiators – Climate Weekly

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with US President Joe Biden at the G7 leaders summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, UK (Photo: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street/Flickr)


After months of speculation, the UK is finally revealing some of its planning to Covid-proof Cop26. 

Together with the UN, the UK is exploring options to provide vaccines to “accredited delegations” that would be unable to get them otherwise.

The news was welcomed by diplomats in developing countries for whom full participation in the critical climate talks, scheduled in November, hinges on equal vaccine access for poorer nations. But their optimism is cautious.

It remains unclear whether vaccines will be offered outside official government delegations to observers, civil society groups and journalists from low-income countries attending the talks.

Some negotiators are still wondering whether they will need to quarantine upon arrival in the UK if border restrictions continue to apply in the autumn.

And even if nearly all Cop26 participants are vaccinated, it remains unclear what protocols would be put in place if negotiators tested positive and were asked to isolate or if someone fell seriously ill.

Ensuring the safe and full participation of developing country delegates, although critical, is only one small part of the issue at stake. One African diplomat told Climate Home News the decision to offer vaccines to climate delegations was “an insignificant gesture” in comparison to the scale of the effort needed to vaccinate the entire population of low-income countries.

Vaccine access has risen to the top of agenda for the leaders of the G7 group of rich nations, meeting for a long weekend in a hotel overlooking a beach in a pristine part of UK’s southern coast to address the world’s most pressing issues: the response and recovery to Covid-19 and climate change.

They are expected to agree a plan to turbocharge vaccine aid and pledge a billion doses to poorer nations by the end of 2022. The US has promised 500 million doses of the jab and the UK 100 million doses within the next year.

As Oxfam’s pan-Africa programme director Peter Kamalingin told reporters earlier this week: “The G7 is a test of global solidarity. If we don’t address this pandemic, it’s going to be much more difficult to address the climate crisis.

Africa accounts for under 1% of the over 2.1 billion doses administered globally, according to the World Health Organisation.

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Read more on: Climate politics | COP26 | UN climate talks