Cop26: ‘Obscene’ vaccine inequality led to Greta Thunberg exit

Cop26: ‘Obscene’ vaccine inequality led to Greta Thunberg exit

Date: 9 April 2021
Campaigns: Climate, Pharma

Vaccine campaigners have said Greta Thunberg is “absolutely right” to condemn an uneven distribution of vaccines preventing low and middle income countries from participating in COP26 on equal terms.

The Swedish climate campaigner said she will not attend the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow this November.

Countries like the UK should “step up” and support waiving patents on Covid-19 vaccinations, as the Biden administration is considering, to ensure the summit goes ahead, campaigners say.

Global Justice Now, an NGO campaigning for equitable vaccine access, has condemned government inaction over vaccines, saying “If world leaders cannot sort out an equitable distribution of vaccines, how can we trust them to save the planet from the brink of destruction?”

Rich countries “burned through the planet’s carbon budget” and are now threatening talks to find a solution by hoarding vaccines, the group says.

Dorothy Guerrero, Head of Policy at Global Justice Now, said:

“Greta Thunberg is absolutely right – it’s obscene that we’ve allowed vaccine inequality to compromise the safety of a crucial climate summit. If world leaders cannot sort out an equitable distribution of vaccines, how can we trust them to save the planet from the brink of destruction?

“Rich countries burned through the planet’s carbon budget and now rich countries’ hoarding of Covid-19 vaccines threatens to exclude low and middle income countries from talks about a solution.

“There is one rapid, sure-fire way to increase global vaccination and ensure COP26 goes ahead in person – waive patents on Covid-19 vaccines and let countries produce their own jabs. The Biden administration is considering it and countries like the UK need to step up too.”


Notes for editors

  • Greta Thunberg has told the BBC she does not plan to attend the UN climate conference due to be held in Glasgow this November:
  • The UK, EU, and US have repeatedly blocked attempts by low and middle income countries, spearheaded by India and South Africa, to temporarily waive intellectual property on trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
  • The Biden administration is reconsidering US opposition to the waiver:
  • Factories that could produce Covid-19 vaccines are currently sitting idle because they are not in the supply chains of the pharmaceutical companies holding vaccine patents. A TRIPS waiver would unlock the world’s productive capacity to produce Covid-19 vaccines, ending the pandemic years sooner.
  • The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on governments to back a TRIPS waiver at the WTO and on Pharmaceutical companies to enter the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), which is designed to facilitate sharing of vaccine technology and knowledge between companies and governments.
  • The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a coalition of organisations and activists united under a common aim of campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’ for COVID-19. The alliance’s members include Free the Vaccine, Global Justice Now, Public Citizen, the Yunus Centre, Frontline AIDS, Amnesty International, Oxfam, SumOfUs and UNAIDS:

Media contact

Joe Karp-Sawey,
Media Manager
Tel: 07711875345
[email protected]

Photos: Daniele COSSU/Shutterstock, Repelsteeltje/Shutterstock