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Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg protests during a "Fridays for Future" protest in front of the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on October 9, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old climate activist from Sweden, says she will skip this November's COP26 climate conference in Scotland over inequities in the rollout of coronavirus vaccines around the world. (Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

Greta Thunberg Says She'll Skip UN Climate Conference Over Covid-19 Vaccine Inequity

"Of course I would love to attend the Glasgow #COP26," she tweeted Friday. "But not unless everyone can take part on the same terms."

Brett Wilkins

Drawing attention to the issue of global coronavirus vaccine inequity, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said Friday that she plans to skip this November's United Nations climate conference in Scotland because the uneven immunization rollout meant that countries cannot participate equally.

"Vaccine nationalism won't solve the pandemic. Global problems need global solutions."
—Greta Thunberg

"Of course I would love to attend the Glasgow #COP26," Thunberg tweeted. "But not unless everyone can take part on the same terms."

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Thunberg said she deplored the fact that by November, wealthy nations will be vaccinating healthy young people "very often at the expense of people in risk groups in other parts of the world."

"With the extremely inequitable vaccine distribution I will not attend the COP26 conference if the development continues as it is now," the 18-year-old said. 

High-income countries have been accused of hoarding vaccine doses, leaving people in the Global South susceptible to the worst consequences of an ongoing pandemic that has already infected more than 134 million people around the world and killed more than 2.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

While rich nations are currently vaccinating about a person per second, some of their governments—including those of the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada—are blocking an initiative led by India and South Africa to temporarily waive an intellectual property agreement in order to produce more vaccine doses for countries struggling to inoculate their people. 

According to AFP, while more than 700 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been distributed in at least 195 nations and territories around the world, just 0.1% of doses have been administered in the lowest-income countries. Haiti, for example, did not have any vaccine doses as of earlier this week.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that the world's highest-income nations are vaccinating people 25 times faster than those with the lowest incomes. 

Additionally, the United Kingdom—which is hosting COP26—has been sharply criticized for what Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs last weekend called "discriminatory" travel restrictions targeting dozens of developing nations.

"Inequality and climate injustice is already the heart of the climate crisis," Thunberg tweeted Friday. "If people can't be vaccinated and travel to be represented equally that's undemocratic and would worsen the problem. Vaccine nationalism won't solve the pandemic. Global problems need global solutions."

As for attending COP26 virtually, Thunberg said that "high speed internet connection and access to computers is extremely unequal in the world."

"In that case we would lack representation from those whose voices need to be heard the most when it comes to the climate crisis," she added. 


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