INTERVIEW: Greta Thunberg to boycott COP26 over unjust vaccine rollouts

Stockholm, Sweden:  Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, announced Friday that she would deliberately miss the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, claiming that the inconsistent implementation of Covid-19 vaccination campaigns will prevent countries from participating on equal footing.

The 18-year-old activist lamented that by November richer countries would be vaccinating young healthy people "very often at the expense of people in risk groups in other parts of the world."

The 18-year-old activist lamented the fact that by November, wealthier countries will be vaccinating young healthy people "sometimes at the detriment of people in risk groups in other parts of the world."

With the highly unequal vaccine distribution, I will not attend the COP26 conference if the current trend persists, Thunberg told AFP in an interview.

According to Thunberg, who confirmed to the BBC, the conference should be rescheduled "if anyone could not attend in the same terms."

The meeting, which was originally scheduled for November 2020, has already been postponed once.

Although the pandemic has largely overshadowed the climate issue, COP26 is seen as one of the opportunities to re-establish the climate issue on the agenda.

The absence of Greta Thunberg, who advocates for drastic and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions rather than long-term objectives, will be a symbolic setback.

However, the activist stated that she would reconsider her decision if vaccine access improved.

"Of course I would love to attend the COP26. But not unless everyone can take part on the same terms," Thunberg said.

According to an AFP tally, over 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been distributed worldwide, with just a few countries well ahead of the pack.

'How dare you!

While vaccinations have started in at least 195 countries worldwide, wealthier nations have made much more strides than the rest, with low-income countries accounting for just 0.1 percent of doses administered.

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization's director for Africa, said Thursday that the continent was on the "sidelines" of the global vaccination campaign against Covid-19, with just 2% of the global total having received the vaccine.

In late March, WHO warned of a growing disparity in vaccine distribution between richer and poorer countries, with agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calling the disparity "not only a moral outrage," but also "economically and epidemiologically self-defeating."

Thunberg started advocating for climate action at the age of 15 in 2018, by spending Fridays outside Sweden's parliament with a sign that read "sitting outside the Swedish parliament in August 2018 with her "School Strike for the Climate."

Her protest drew international attention, and when she addressed world leaders in front of film crews from around the world at the UN climate summit in New York in 2019, she delivered a fiery speech that made headlines around the world.

"How dare you!" she thundered.

Time magazine chose her Person of the Year in 2019.

This story has been updated with the 2nd lead. More to follow. 

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