Delta variant concerns prompt debate over delaying major U.N. climate summit

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Delay or no delay? Covid concern prompts debate over U.N. climate summit
WASHINGTON — With the delta variant surging across the globe, leading nations and environmental groups are locked in an escalating debate over whether to postpone this year's U.N. global climate summit scheduled for November in Scotland.

Already delayed once from 2020 by Covid-19, the Glasgow summit has been billed as the last, best chance for world nations to commit to the dramatic cuts in greenhouse gases needed to avert the most catastrophic effects of global warming. Thousands of government leaders, activists and leading executives are expected to attend.

Yet in an ironic twist, the loudest calls to postpone are coming from climate change activists, who say holding it in the middle of a raging pandemic would shortchange poorer, developing nations that have often been pushed to the sidelines of international efforts on global warming.

The Climate Action Network, which says it represents more than 1,500 organizations in over 130 nations, says no in-person summit should be held this year, pointing out that many developing nations are on the U.K.'s "red list" for Covid-19, which limits travel and imposes stringent quarantine requirements. The group is also arguing that poorer nations, especially those in Africa, have far less access to the vaccine.

Echoing that call are activists like Greta Thunberg, a mainstay at past global climate summits who says she won't attend this year due to "extremely inequitable vaccine distribution." Prominent groups such as Greenpeace have also urged a delay for the summit, known as COP or COP26.

Rachel Cleetus, climate policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said delaying an in-person summit…
Josh Lederman
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