The upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow “must be postponed” according to a network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who say those on the climate change frontlines will be excluded.
Climate Action Network (CAN) said any in-person COP would “de facto exclude many government delegates, civil society campaigners and journalists”, particularly from Global South countries on the UK’s Covid-19 red list.
The group represents more than 1,500 civil society organisations in over 130 countries.
CAN said it is “impossible” to hold a safe and inclusive event due to failures to support vaccines to millions of people in poor countries, rising costs of travel and accommodation and new surges in Covid 19.
Earlier this week, Westminster announced it would fund hotel quarantine stays for delegates travelling from red list countries.
COP26 president Alok Sharma tweeted: “Climate change has not taken time off, which is why COP26 must go ahead in person in November.”
Climate change has not taken time off, which is why #COP26 must go ahead in person in November
The UK is funding quarantine hotels for accredited delegates from red list countries
This is in addition to our vaccines offer to ensure an inclusive, accessible & covid-secure summit
— Alok Sharma (@AlokSharma_RDG) September 7, 2021
The NGO group said that “full and meaningful representation of those on the frontlines of the climate emergency” is “critical” to a credible political outcome from the summit.
Executive director Tasneem Essop said: ”Our concern is that those countries most deeply affected by the climate crisis and those countries suffering from the lack of support by rich nations in providing vaccines will be left out of the talks and be conspicuous by their absence at COP26.
“There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the UN climate talks, between rich and poor nations, and this is now compounded by the health crisis. Looking at the current timeline for COP26, it is difficult to imagine there can be fair participation from the Global South under safe conditions and it should therefore be postponed.”
Westminster said on Tuesday that delegates who have registered for a vaccine through the accreditation process are due to begin receiving their first dose this week.
COP26 was originally due to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 but organisers took the decision to delay it by a year in light of the pandemic.
Thousands of delegates, including world leaders, will come together to draw up plans to accelerate global decarbonisation.
The United Nations event has been described as the “world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control”.