Greta Thunberg to skip Cop26 climate change summit in protest over vaccine hoarding

Teenage campaigner calls on UK government to delay key conference

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 17: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks to participants at a climate change protest on January 17, 2020 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The protest is taking place ahead of the upcoming annual gathering of world leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum. (Photo by Ronald Patrick/Getty Images)
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Greta Thunberg will not attend the UN climate conference in Scotland in November in protest over the inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

The 18-year-old Swedish climate change campaigner said many countries were inoculating younger people at the expense of at-risk groups in poorer countries.

She said the UK government should delay the Cop26 climate change summit until global inoculation rates increase.

"Of course I would love to attend the Glasgow #COP26," she tweeted.

"But not unless everyone can take part on the same terms. Right now many countries are vaccinating healthy young people, often at the expense of risk groups and frontline workers."

She said it would be undemocratic for the summit to proceed if some countries could not be represented because of low vaccination rates.

"Inequality and climate injustice is already the heart of the climate crisis. If people can’t be vaccinated and travel to be represented equally that’s undemocratic and would worsen the problem," she said.

"Vaccine nationalism won’t solve the pandemic. Global problems need global solutions."

The activist's decision to pull out of the event is a significant blow for the UK government's aims to be a world leader in limiting climate change.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to bolster his environmental credentials after heavy criticism over his response to the pandemic.

Ms Thunberg has attended every major climate conference since her first protest outside the Swedish parliament two and a half years ago.

But she said urgent action on climate change need not wait for the summit.

"We don’t have to wait for conferences nor anyone or anything else to dramatically start reducing our emissions. Solidarity and action can start today," she said.

"And a digital solution is of course far from optimal. 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."