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Climate activists boycott climate conference over vaccine inequality

As world leaders from 190 nations convene in Glasgow, Scotland for the Climate Change Conference Sunday, leading climate activists are preparing to sit these talks out.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has garnered global attention for her demands on climate reform, has said she will be protesting the talks to draw attention to another issue – vaccine inequality.

TOPSHOT – Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks during a climate strike demonstration of Fridays for Future in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 22, 2021.  (Photo by ERIK SIMANDER/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

“Climate justice also means social justice and that we leave no one behind,” she wrote on Twitter this week.

Roughly 30,000 individuals are expected to be in attendance at the climate conference, first reported the Washington Post, but health implications with the continuing pandemic remain a top concern.

Climate activists condemned the conference earlier this year, accusing Western nations of being unsympathetic to vaccine disparities amongst developing nations.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly promised to disperse vaccines to leaders from nations who could not gain access to vaccines on their own, though the U.K. government faced criticism for a disorganized vaccine distribution system, reported the Post.

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The United Nations warned global leaders this week that they need to make big, immediate changes to how their nations function if they want to avoid “climate catastrophe.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 30: Pilgrimage groups who have walked to Glasgow are joined by members of the group, Extinction Rebellion as they walk to raise awareness of the climate crisis on October 30, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

But Thunberg has opted out of this years’ conference.

“Nothing has changed from previous years really,” Thunberg said in a recent interview with The Guardian. “The leaders will say we’ll do this and we’ll do this, and we will put our forces together and achieve this, and then they will do nothing. Maybe some symbolic things and creative accounting and things that don’t really have a big impact.”

 

It remains unclear how Thunberg expects policy-based change to happen, but global leaders are using the conference to establish national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN this week warned that to prevent global temperatures from increasing above the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, countries will need to take more aggressive strategies than previously thought.

Thunberg will still make it to Glasgow during the near two-week-long conference.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 30: Pilgrimage groups who have walked to Glasgow are joined by members of the group, Extinction Rebellion as they walk to raise awareness of the climate crisis on October 30, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

On Nov. 5 she will attend a COP26 Climate Strike to express her frustration at the continuing COVID-19 threat in underdeveloped nations – a topic Thunberg has made a major issue in her fight against climate change.

On Friday, Thunberg took aim at the Western media, advising journalists and outlets in developed nations to more heavily report on news south of the equator.

“The climate crisis isn’t just about extreme weather. It’s about people,” she penned in coordination with Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate-justice activist. “And while the Global South is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, it’s almost never on the front pages of the world’s newspapers.

“You have the resources and possibilities to change the story overnight,” they continued. “Whether or not you choose to rise to that challenge is up to you. Either way, history will judge you.”

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