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Don’t do it! Boris Johnson plans to waive vaccine rules for COP26 conference

Global Warming Policy Forum

The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has criticised Boris Johnson’s plan to waive vaccine rules for tens of thousand of people from around the world to attend the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

According to a report in the Times, Boris Johnson has given his support to plans to allow thousands of delegates treated with Russian and Chinese vaccines to attend the Cop26 climate change summit despite cabinet opposition.

The prime minister is facing a cabinet split over plans to allow officials and leaders who have been jabbed with Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines from China, or Sputnik V from Russia, into the UK without quarantining.

The vaccines are not recognised by either the UK or European medical regulators because of concerns over their efficacy. Officials have raised concerns about the public health implications of allowing in the delegates.

In a recent letter to the Prime Minister GWPF director Benny Peiser pointed out that President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate had clearly demonstrated that a physical meeting is not necessary to get political leaders to make lofty climate pledges.

And since President Biden’s conference has already delivered an array of pledges from 40 national leaders, it is unlikely that Glasgow will achieve a great deal more.

In his letter, Dr Peiser lists a number of critical reasons for the need of an online conference:

1. It will save UK taxpayers an estimated £200 million.

2. It will eliminate the considerable CO2 emissions from the 30,000 delegates who would otherwise fly in from around the world. 

3. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has warned that some coronavirus restrictions may have to be brought back to control the virus later this year because winter weather is likely to help the spread of the virus. Moving COP26 online will demonstrate that both the UK and Scottish governments are serious about protecting the public from the potential risk of Covid19 variants brought into the country by delegates from nearly 200 countries. 

4. The climate change community and green NGOs should show their commitment to mitigation by holding all future COP events online, thereby demonstrating that there isn’t one rule for them and another for everyone else. 

5. Postponing COP26 until next year, as climate campaigners recommend, poses its own challenges for the green movement as it would be overshadowed by the US mid-term elections in November 2022 and its possible repercussions.