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Climate talks face rich-poor coronavirus vaccine divide

Dean Kyte Fletcher Dean Rachel Kyte comments on issues leading up to the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit, including the unavailability of COVID-19 vaccines and debt relief services, via an article in Politico


On Sunday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on his fellow G7 leaders, who meet this week in Cornwall, to provide vaccines to developing countries reeling from simultaneous economic, climate and health crises. 

The response from the rich democracies will ripple through COP26, where the U.K. is lobbying all countries to conclude talks on the rules governing the 2015 Paris Agreement and dramatically hasten their efforts to cut emissions.

“The developing country positions running up into COP26 are going to harden and harden if vaccines are not available, debt relief and support for growth is not available and climate finance isn't solved,” said Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a former top U.N. climate envoy. 

Thousands of national delegates typically attend the annual two-week U.N. conference, simultaneously wrangling over dozens of negotiating streams. The U.K. remains adamant that it will host the meeting in person after last year's conference was postponed due to the pandemic. But a spokesperson for the COP26 in London would not say whether the U.K. will impose barriers, such as quarantines, on unvaccinated attendees. 

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