COP26 criticised for excluding delegates from climate front line

UK visa rules and a lack of access to Covid-19 vaccines has stopped some delegates from the front line of climate change attending the COP26 talks, campaigners said today.

Asad Rehman at the COP26 Coalition climate justice rally, 31 October 2021. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The COP26 Coalition of grassroots climate groups described COP26 as “the most exclusionary in history”.

It said thousands had been blocked from making their voices heard.

“It is happening at a crucial moment in history, as we live through a period of multiple breaking points from climate to covid to racism. We know that these crises not only overlap, but share the same cause.

“We have a unique opportunity to rewire our system as we recover from the pandemic. This COP is the moment to show whether we will intensify these crises to the point of no return – or lay the foundations for a just world where everyone’s needs are met.”

Speaking at a climate justice rally this afternoon, Asad Rehman, of the COP26 Coalition and War on Want, said it was critical that voices from the global south had a voice at the talks.

But they had been excluded by what he described as a “vaccine apartheid”. Less than one per cent of people in some countries had been vaccinated because of a lack of access to the vaccine, he said.

Lidy Nacpil spoke by video link. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Lidy Nacpil, from the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, appeared by video link from the Philippines because she said she had been unable to get a visa under UK immigration rules.

Camille Barbagallo, of the COP26 Coalition, said:

Camille Barbagallo, of the COP26 Coalition

“We need to call out the UK government for the appalling way in which they have organised COP26, as those who most need their voices heard in climate negations have not been able to enter the UK due to hostile border restrictions. This is a shameful way to organise a conference. “

Kevin Mtai

Kenyan climate activist Kevin Mtai, another speaker at the rally, said some African countries faced a double crisis of climate change and Covid 19. He said:

 “I am here from Kenya to fight for my country and bring the voices of my community to the negotiations, as many of them cannot speak for themselves – many are already having to migrate due to the impacts of the climate crisis. We are here to pressure our leaders after so many COPs which have resulted in false promises.”

At a news conference this afternoon, Dorothy Guerrero, of Global Justice Now, said the refusal to give more manufacturers, particularly in developing countries, access to produce the vaccine had stopped some people attending COP26

“It is not a crime coming from a developing country or a poor country.

“You’re already saddled by the fact that your country was affected already for many decades, and you are the least responsible for this climate change.

“And yet you could not come here and raise your voice in this important meeting simply because you don’t have access to the vaccine and hence you can’t attend the COP.”

Nathan Thanki, of Demand Climate Justice, told the news conference that the exclusion of many people from the global south was a “far cry from the presidency’s stated goal of having the most inclusive Cop ever”.

“When the people are coming from the front lines of the climate crisis… when they are not able to be in room, raise their voices and make their demands, when they have to jump through millions of hoops just to be here and then be tokenised of course you get rhetoric without action.”

DrillOrDrop’s reporting from COP26 has been made possible by individual donations from readers

Updated 1/11/21 with more photos and details

6 replies »

  1. Thank you Ruth for reporting this, I was going to mention this aspect of “vaccine apartheid” excluding delegates from attending COP26. But I thought due the danger of severe censorship if it was even so much as mentioned, I kept that particular aspect out of my posts so as not to incur the wrath of the censors.

    I thoroughly agree with Assad Remam, of the COP26 Coalition and War on Want, Lidy Nacpi, from the Philippines, Kenyan climate activist Kevin Mtai, Dorothy Guerrero, of Global Justice Now, Nathan Thanki, of Demand Climate Justice, and others.

    Not only has COP26 become an issue of political manipulation and control, but it demonstrates the exercise of the growing power to exclude on medical grounds when testing is all that is required. Fortunately people will speak out and they will be heard. Congratulations Ruth and Paul for reporting it.

    Is this really only to do with the pandemic? Or is that just a most convenient excuse to exclude delegates, and has the world gone into some sort of self imposed psychotic episode of social and political manipulation and control?

    The ghosts of 1930’s Germany and USA and South Africa apartheid separatism appear to be rising from their troubled graves once again.

    It appears that the COP26 conference is raising all sorts of forbidden subjects already. I’m sure that there will be many more to come.

    Political control and manipulation only goes so far. Its people who hold the real truth cards. Long may that be.

    I still say that an internet COP26.2 conference arrangement would remove any and all such barriers for everyone that was invited but could not attend due to exclusion and “vaccine apartheid” to have their say and be available to everyone.

    • Also I agree with Camille Barbagallo, of the COP26 Coalition, who said:

      “We need to call out the UK government for the appalling way in which they have organised COP26, as those who most need their voices heard in climate negations have not been able to enter the UK due to hostile border restrictions. This is a shameful way to organise a conference. “

  2. Thanks,Phil, for raising this issue. It is indeed difficult to see how the UK ‘s desire for an inclusive COP is matched by its withholding of the necessary vaccine from intending delegates, just as difficult as to see how the UK’s integrity is upheld by its failure to wage war on vaccine apartheid. As Greta Thunberg has pointed out, “Blah, blah,blah” rules the world of ethics. Are ethical considerations even understood by this generation of political leaders and their de facto industrial masters?

  3. This is certainly an interesting form of climate apartheid, given that many of the ‘developing’ countries that this affects are also the ones at the greatest risk from climate change – sea rise, extreme heat, drought and flood. Leaving aside the astounding issue of not using millions of excess vaccines in these countries (when will the next variant(s), perhaps able to sidestep current vaccines hit the world?), is it seriously not feasible to hear these delegates via Zoom, Teams or other comms platforms? We’ve just had two years of doing so. If suitably cynical, one might even suspect this was deliberate exclusion.

    • This is also extremely dangerous ground. But what the frack.

      There are reports that vaccines are being restricted by pharmaceutical corporations and vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer to “prevent” countries from being given excess vaccines by other countries unless they buy them directly. in order to do so, the countries must sign what is in effect unheard of unbelievably draconian NDO legal agreements to absolutely absolve vaccine manufacturers from ever being responsible for their product. To only vaccinate those who the manufacturers allow, and to completely control the entire vaccine roll out in every aspect. And are then contractually forbidden from even talking about it or admitting it!

      Not only that. Even if the agreement is signed under duress or otherwise, (actually that nullifies any contract) the pharmaceutical manufacturers are handed complete anti democratic draconian powers to confiscate finance or property anywhere in the world and fine entire governments if they so much as fail to obey the slightest of the pharmaceutical manufacturers absolute control demands.

      The Gravitas report says, this is in effect “vaccine terrorism”. George Orwells “1984” and Aldous Huxleys “Brave New World” go get your hat and coat! You are out of a job.

      Now perhaps the extent of the “vaccine apartheid” can be fully appreciated and why certain countries are being forbidden to receive vaccines or hand over their entire country to the vaccine manufacturers.

      That is why an internet COP26.6 is now an essential requirement, or those countries will no longer exist in any sense of the word.

      Has the UK government signed such an agreement? Because if the UK government has signed such an agreement, Boris Johnson couldn’t say so, even if he had….What price democracy now?

      Like i said the COP26 conference is raising all sorts of forbidden subjects already. From a quite unexpected direction as well.

      Have a nice day at COP26.

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