Filipino activists urge UK government to address hurdles or postpone UN climate summit

September 8, 2021

Filipino climate activists have joined the global call for the postponement of the UN climate summit due to the “lack of plans to ensure safe and inclusive participation.”

The activists said the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) needs the participation of the most vulnerable countries. 

“The climate summit needs to be inclusive. Voices from the most vulnerable countries need not only be heard; they must be prioritized,” said Virginia Benosa-Llorin, climate justice campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines. 

Llorin said while the issue of climate justice “remains inadequately addressed” in the summit, “the crisis brought on by the pandemic has added another layer of injustice to their plight.”

On September 7, more than 1,500 civil society organizations from 130 countries urged the UK government to postpone the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) if it cannot address the hurdles brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a statement, the Climate Action Network (CAN) said it is evident that a safe, inclusive, and just global climate summit “will be impossible” to happen in November. 

The network said the UK government is failing “to support the access to vaccines to millions of people in poor countries, the rising costs of travel and accommodation, including for quarantine in and outside of the UK and the uncertainty in the course of the Covid19 pandemic.” 

Many of the COP26 delegates, including government representatives, climate negotiators, journalists, and civil society campaigners are from the poor and vulnerable countries that are on the UK’s COVID-19 ‘red list.’

Juan Pablo Osornio of Greenpeace International said the COP presidency (UK) “has failed to guarantee the safe and equitable participation of COP26 delegates, especially people coming from countries that are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and the climate crisis.” 

He said if the UK government wants the climate summit to be well-represented, it must “ensure that vaccines can be accessed and given sufficiently in advance to all delegates and provide financial support to cover the cost of hotel quarantine.”

The UK requires people from red list countries to stay in a ‘quarantine hotel’ 10 days before travel to the UK, aside from quarantine upon arrival in the country. 

Osornio said COP26 needs to be “fair and accessible to deliver global climate justice,” adding that expecting people from vulnerable countries to attend the summit unsafe and unsupported “is not only unfair but prohibitive.” 

COP26 was originally scheduled in early November 2020 but was postponed until November 2021 due to the global pandemic. 

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