The overarching theme of time, or the lack of it, has unfortunately persevered when it comes to the UK Government delivering an effective vaccination plan for COP26 delegates and observers.
After implementing an application process for COP26 delegates to apply for Covid-19 vaccinations, one could have been misled into believing that the UK government would do anything to achieve the “most inclusive [COP] ever” – a bold statement amidst a pandemic to begin with, and an even bolder one now as we find ourselves in September and past the threshold of potential ‘full’ vaccinations for delegates.
Full vaccination success relies more heavily on the interval between the two doses rather than the measurement of the doses themselves according to a leading medical journal, the BMJ. Oxfords’ AstraZeneca, the British government’s vaccination of choice for delegates, has a 54.9% efficiency rating if given less than six weeks apart and the last minute rush to be ‘inclusive’ is resulting in a 4 week gap for global south delegates.
The WHO secretary-general noted that ‘the vaccine crisis illustrates the fundamental weakness at the root of the pandemic: the lack of global solidarity and sharing’. This is highlighted in the offering of $7bn from rich nations at the G7 in June in place of the required $44bn, putting the concept of “global solidarity” to question whilst further exacerbating the obvious vaccination divide; a divide in which only 0.3 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.
Furthermore, as a result of the UK government’s traffic-light system, ‘climate powerhouse’ countries from the red list are ‘essentially banned’ other than exempt delegates, meaning that representation of the Global South in the form of observers, NGOs and civil society will suffer. Those who do make it to Glasgow for November will be required to quarantine for five days if vaccinated and ten days if not vaccinated, adding the potentially unaffordable cost of $3,100 per person and making the concept of inclusivity at COP26 yet more elusive.
Insufficient representation of the Global South at COP26 epitomizes the social injustices of climate change as the Global North rack up climate debt while the southern hemisphere pays the price in the form of extreme flooding, drought, wildfire, and more, as well as enduring a prolonged pandemic, not helped by the vaccination hoarding in the West.
The Paris Agreement in 2015, an event which is widely considered one of the most successful UN Climate Summits, saw “vulnerable countries and developed nations form[ing] a high ambition coalition”, a now dubious prospect for COP26; the event which has been deemed our “last chance” to slow down climate change.