NGOs call for Cop26 postponement amid fears that developing countries cannot attend

Demonstrators on the sidelines of a G20 environment meeting, in Naples, Italy, in 22 July, 2021. A coalition of environmental groups have called for the climate summit due to take place in November to be delayed, arguing that travel restrictions and unequal access to vaccines will hinder participation from developing countries. (Credit: Keystone/AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

Covid restrictions will result in unequal participation in climate talks for developing countries, environmental groups have said.

Over 1,500 environmental organisations urged the UK government on Tuesday to postpone the long-awaited UN climate summit over increasing constraints for developing countries to participate in the meeting.

“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 until such time it can be,” the Climate Action Network international said in a statement.

The annual gathering will be key to sorting out a number of unresolved issues related to the landmark Paris Agreement, including defining the rules for using carbon offsets to meet emissions reduction targets.

The meeting was due to take place last year but was postponed for Covid reasons, sparking outcry among climate campaigners.

Hundreds of country delegates and members of civil society are expected to travel to Glasgow, Scotland for the in-person meeting due to take place in early November. However, the host country has imposed new restrictions to fight off the surge of Covid cases that will mainly affect developing countries.

Attendees travelling from countries listed as high-risk will have to quarantine ahead of the meeting for a duration of five days for those fully vaccinated and 10 days for those unvaccinated, Politico reported, ramping up the costs for the already overstretched budgets of governments, NGOs and indigenous groups from poorer countries.

The NGOs also stressed in the letter the unequal distribution of jabs as European countries have already vaccinated 57 per cent of their population while only 3 per cent of Africa has received their Covid shots.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma responded to concerns by committing “to fund the required quarantine hotel stays for registered delegates arriving from red list areas and to vaccinate accredited delegates who would be unable otherwise to get vaccinated.”

“COP26 has already been postponed by one year, and we are all too aware climate change has not taken time off,” he said in a statement.