Environmental Activists Call for COP26 to be Delayed Due to COVID-19 and Inequity

Image: John Samuel via Wikimedia Commons

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor

On Tuesday, environmental activists worldwide called for the  UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow to be postponed once again, citing the continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential inequity it will create in climate talks. British officials and other government leaders say that the November summit must go forward as planned, given the urgency of climate change. Still, activists worry that low vaccine resources and limited travel capability from low-income nations may prevent marginalized communities from having a voice in Glasgow.


Why This Matters: Globally, low-income communities, Indigenous people, and people of color are at the frontlines of climate impacts. Countries suffering the most from these impacts often have the least resources for climate adaptation, climate recovery, and attending climate summits. Despite many wealthy nations taking up the mantle of global climate leadership, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres says they’re not doing enough to fund climate action in low-income nations. As the pandemic further decimates economies and vaccine distribution moves slowly, there’s concern that the voices of these most-impacted communities may be silenced. It’s up to wealthy countries to ensure equity at the COP26 conference, but activists aren’t confident that they’ll step up to the plate.


Environment and Equity

“There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the UN climate talks, and this is now compounded by the health crisis,” said Tasneem Essop, executive director of the Climate Action Network, which encompasses hundreds of nonprofit and nongovernmental advocacy groups in 130 countries. Juan Pablo Osornio, senior political lead for Greenpeace International, agrees, “expecting already disadvantaged people to attend without access to vaccines, healthcare, and financial support to overcome the risks of participation, is not only unfair but prohibitive.”


In response, British officials have announced that they will pay for the travel costs of delegates from 60 “red list” countries, including quarantine hotel accommodations, and ensure that they receive vaccinations. British officials also announced that vaccines are already being shipped and that doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will begin to be administered by the end of the week. However, they’re cutting it extremely close; the AstraZeneca vaccine is given in two doses, separated by eight weeks, but to ensure full immunity by the November conference, delegates will be given both doses over only four weeks. 

Despite disagreement on how the COP26 conference should proceed, climate activists and government leaders agree on one thing — time is running out to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Up Next

Congressional Democrats & Biden Administration Move Towards Passing Largest Climate Investment in US History

Congressional Democrats & Biden Administration Move Towards Passing Largest Climate Investment in US History

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Late last week, President Biden and a critical mass of Democrats in the Senate and House agreed on the details of Build Back Better legislation — a $1.85 trillion overall investment that includes a record-setting  $555 billion dollars to take on the climate crisis.    The agreement marked a […]

Continue Reading 502 words
Big Oil Testifies in Congress about Decades of Disinformation

Big Oil Testifies in Congress about Decades of Disinformation

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Top executives from Big Oil companies ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell testified before Congress yesterday amid accusations and revelations about their industry’s efforts to mislead the public about human-caused climate change while claiming to be in favor of climate action. A report released Thursday morning by the House Committee […]

Continue Reading 542 words
UN Says Climate Pledges Are Too Weak to Stop Warming

UN Says Climate Pledges Are Too Weak to Stop Warming

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer As the world gets ready for COP26 in Glasgow next week, many nations are upping their pledges to lower emissions before 2030. But according to a UN report released Tuesday, even if Argentina, Britain, Canada, the EU, South Africa, and the US achieve their pledged goals, it would account […]

Continue Reading 326 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.