Science Group Calls for Postponement of COP26 Due to Public Health and Vaccine Access Concerns, Urges Continued Climate Action

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Sep 7, 2021

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has joined a global coalition of civil society groups calling for the postponement of the international climate conference, known as COP26, scheduled to take place October 31 through November 12 in Glasgow.

Below is a quote by Rachel Cleetus, policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“UCS is joining a coalition of diverse global civil society groups in calling for the postponement of COP26 because it is clear that the international climate talks, if they proceed as currently planned, cannot meet science-based public health guidelines in an equitable way. Importantly, this in no way takes the pressure off countries to address the climate crisis, especially richer nations like the United States that bear an outsized responsibility for heat-trapping emissions.

“We are calling on richer nations to take swift action to address the gross global COVID-19 vaccine inequity, including taking prompt action to secure a World Trade Organization trade-related intellectual property rights waiver; help scale up vaccine manufacturing capacity around the world; contribute to COVAX, the global vaccine sharing initiative; and limit the power of major pharmaceutical companies to control vaccine access. We cannot end this pandemic unless everyone has access to vaccines and other life-saving medical care.

“We also urge the Biden administration and Congress to quickly enact policies to cut U.S. heat-trapping emissions to put us on a path to at least a 50 to 52 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030, invest in climate resilience, and commit to ramping up U.S. international climate finance to at least $12 billion per year by 2024. Progress on climate action must continue on an urgent basis, regardless of whether an in-person COP takes place this November.

“Intensifying storms; catastrophic wildfires; and worsening droughts, heatwaves and floods are taking a mounting toll on people, economies and vital ecosystems around the world—and those with the fewest resources who have contributed the least to this problem are bearing a disproportionate and unjust burden. These impacts are also intersecting with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, compounding harms for the most vulnerable. Policymakers must meet this moment with bold, just and equitable public health, economic and climate policies.”