Pres. Ali says COP26 restrictions cut-off vulnerable countries


By Kurt Campbell

The 2021 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is set to bring together scores of world leaders to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It is scheduled to be held in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, between 31 October and 12 November 2021.

Small countries which are sometimes hardest affected by climate change are hoping to use the conference to lobby the developed countries for support and seek to have a number of issues addressed.

But Guyana’s Head of State Dr. Irfaan Ali believes that the travel restrictions linked to COVID-19 could prevent many small island developing states from attending the conference.

The restrictions had imposed a mandatory quarantine for delegations including world leaders travelling from certain parts of the world (red zones). The UK’s international travel and health rules also do not recognise some vaccines, and sometimes the vaccine choice is rejected because of which country it was administered.

While addressing a UNCTAD 15 in Barbados in Tuesday, Dr. Ali railed against those restrictions saying that he was unsure of his own participation in COP26 and that of other world leaders.

“I don’t know how many will meet to [COP26] because of the criteria to be on coloured list otherwise you have to do a 14 days quarantine.

“All the countries most affected by climate change find themselves on that list… I hope it is not by design,” he added.

Speaking in the wider context of a disparity in accelerating recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters, Dr. Ali said the COP26 restrictions are just a small part of the challenges developing and least developed countries face.

“We have to represent our interest but 90 per cent of the time you find yourself on a list or some document that curtail how you represent yourself,” he added.

With the UK not recognising some vaccines, persons fully vaccinated with those vaccines fear they will not be able to attend the summit. But the UK announced that for the purpose of the summit all vaccines will be recognised.

Travel exemptions were posted to the COP26 website advising that the travel regime, which includes a special set of measures put in place in England and Scotland to protect public health while ensuring an inclusive summit, have been revised.

In summary the new rules are:

  • everyone must be able to show evidence of pre-arrival COVID-19 negative test result
  • everyone must complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF)
  • everyone must participate in the COP26 daily test programme
  • anyone who has been in a red-list country or territory in the 10 days immediately prior to arrival into England or Scotland must undergo Managed Quarantine at port of entry. Delegates that are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must quarantine for 5 days.  Unvaccinated delegates must quarantine for 10 days.  A bespoke booking process is in place for COP26 attendees, and you must be registered on the UNFCCC website to begin the process of booking.
  • if you have not been in a red list country or territory you do not have to quarantine

To support these measures, uniquely for COP:

  • The UK Government will fund the required Managed Quarantine stays for all Registered COP Attendees (party delegates, observers and media) who would otherwise find it difficult to attend COP, including those from the Global South.
  • The UK and Scottish Governments will recognise all COVID-19 vaccinations, and declaration through the UNFCCC registration process as evidence
  • The UK Government will provide a supporting named invitation letter confirming that you are travelling to attend COP26 to help facilitate your travel.

The advisory said test, trace and isolate protocols will play a key role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 infections at COP26.

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