Environmental groups call for postponement of climate talks
LONDON (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups has called for a pivotal climate conference to be postponed amid concern that many of those most affected by global warming won’t be able to attend because of the continuing threat from COVID-19.
Campaigners said Tuesday that organizers hadn’t done enough to ensure broad participation in the event by providing access to vaccines and defraying the rising cost of travel for people from developing nations, many of which are subject to British government travel restrictions. The UN climate summit, known as COP26, is scheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 12 in Scotland.
“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,’’ said Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network, which includes 1,500 groups in 130 countries. “There has always been an inherent power imbalance within the U.N. climate talks and this is now compounded by the health crisis.’’
But the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 48 countries that are most at risk from climate change, later said an in-person summit must take place as scheduled to ensure the world responds to a threat “unparalleled in human history.”
The tussle over postponement comes just weeks after an international panel of climate scientists issued a stark warning to world leaders, saying time was running out to avert the worst effects of climate change. COP26 is seen as a critical step in the drive to persuade governments, industry and investors around the world to make binding commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The meeting was originally scheduled to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.
“Clearly, every country needs to be given the opportunity to participate in COP26, but a further postponement at this stage could have very serious consequences by undermining the momentum for action on climate change,” said Bob Ward, policy director for the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London.