As COP26 gets underway, inequitable access continues to be a problem. Developing nations least responsible for, but most vulnerable to, the climate crisis have always been underrepresented at the global summit, but the problem is worse this year as the coronavirus pandemic compounds long-standing inequities, raising the barriers to entry even higher.
“Every two to three months you have to face people who’ve just lost their homes and they look to you and they ask you: ‘Yet again?’” Satyendra Prasad, Fiji’s ambassador to the UN, told the LA Times. Largely due COVID travel restrictions, the heads of state of just four Pacific island nations will be in Glasgow while 11 other countries will have to make due with smaller delegate teams and NGO volunteers. Concerns over global vaccine inequity have dogged the conference for months.
“I am tired of applauding my people’s resilience,” Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the LA Times. “True resilience is not just defined by a nation’s grit but by our access to financial resources.”
Six environmental experts who recently fled the Taliban were also due to attend COP26, had their applications unexpectedly rejected —without explanation — just days before the event, the Guardian reported. The five men and one woman, who cannot be named out of fear for their safety, all previously worked with UN programs, the pre-Taliban government or other national environmental groups in Afghanistan. “By taking this action the UNFCCC secretariat stifled the voice of millions of Afghan victims of climate change impact,” one of the experts told The Guardian. “Climate change does not respect borders.” (The Verge, LA Times $, The Guardian)