The world’s least developed countries have launched a warning against the barriers that COVID restrictions and lack of vaccines put on their participation in the coming conference on climate in Scotland, the U.N. COP26 talks.
“Delegates from the LDC Group remain concerned about the logistics of getting to Glasgow” for the meeting, Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi, chair of the group of the 46 least developed countries (LDCs) said in a statement on Friday. “With less than seven weeks before the LDC Group is due to meet in Glasgow, the COP26 Presidency must clearly communicate their plan for ensuring a safe and inclusive COP,” he said.
The countries in the LDC Group “are among the worst affected by climate change — we must not be excluded from talks deciding how the world will deal with this crisis, determining the fate of our lives and livelihoods,” he said.
The LDC Group’s COP26 preparatory meeting is scheduled for October 25-26 in Glasgow, ahead of the COP26 opening on October 31.
There are 20 countries from the group that are on the U.K.’s red list. For the countries in the list, there is a requirement for unvaccinated individuals to quarantine for the standard 10 days which is reduced to quarantine period of five days for vaccinated individuals. Among the 20 countries there are mainly African nations like Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also a few others like Bangladesh and Myanmar.
For those fully vaccinated but in the amber list, no self-isolation is required.
Despite the logistical problems, Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi stressed the commitment of the world’s poorest nations to find a solution against climate change and the need for talks to be inclusive. “Fair and ambitious outcomes from COP26 are urgently needed to ensure rapidly scaled up climate action to deliver a deep cut in emissions before 2030,” he said.
But the COVID restrictions are problematic.
“Even if vaccinated, delegates would need to quarantine for five days,” Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi said. “Some LDCs also have requirements to quarantine on return home, to keep communities safe during the pandemic. When you add the time for quarantining in the U.K to that at home to three weeks of meetings in Glasgow, some delegates may have to be away from families for more than seven weeks.”
And “on top of quarantine requirements in the U.K. and our home countries, flight routes to Glasgow are not straightforward,” he said. “Commercial flights out of Pacific island nations are almost non-existent, and some of the regular transiting hubs are not allowing non-residents to fly through.”
Earlier his week, a group of 1,500 NGOs, including Climate Action Network International and Greenpeace, said the Glasgow talks should not go ahead due to concerns over the expense and lack of access to COVID vaccines among delegates from poor countries.
But the 45 countries making up the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) released a collective statement that said COP26, already delayed by a year, must go ahead as planned.