“The South African and Indian governments lodged a request for a patent waiver at the World Trade Organisation, which has been backed by organisations such as Global Justice Now, but it is countries such as the UK that continue to hold-up progress.”
By Ben Folley
The global struggle for climate and vaccine justice will be a key discussion at Arise Festival’s 5th March online event “Making Another World Possible – An Internationalist agenda for the Left and Labour“.
The two issues have thrown the scale of global inequality into sharp relief over the past two years as the advanced countries put the lives of millions – and even billions – at risk, whilst they prioritise their own economies and wealth interests.
Those countries with the capacity for vaccine production and with both the current and historical responsibility for the greatest carbon emissions make the less developed countries carry the burden.
The pandemic has most clearly shown the failure of global institutions dominated by Europe and North America to deliver vaccine justice around the globe.
Whilst some individuals in the UK and other wealthy nations are now receiving a fourth dose of the vaccine, almost 40% of the world – perhaps as many as 3 billion people – are yet to receive their first dose.
In terms of full vaccination, many wealthy countries now have over 80% full vaccination rates of their populations, whilst in Africa, countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria, less than 5% are fully vaccinated.
This comes down to the limited capacity for vaccine production around the globe, whilst pharmaceutical corporations guard patents for their manufacture and governments fail to take action.
As early as October 2020, the South African and Indian governments lodged a request for a patent waiver at the World Trade Organisation, which has been backed by organisations such as Global Justice Now, but it is countries such as the UK that continue to hold-up progress when countries across the Global South could be producing vaccines now.
In the same window, the issue of climate justice has risen up the political agenda, particularly in the run-up to the crucial COP26 conference hosted by the UK last Autumn to discuss efforts to reduce carbon emissions and the impact of man-made climate change.
The closure of the conference and the acceptance of a consensus document on agreements, saw the watering down of commitments to end the use of coal to the more vague language of ‘phase out’.
Countries will be required to report to COP27 on progress in their ‘nationally determined contributions’ to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 to keep global warming below a 1.5°C increase. However experts such as the Climate Change Committee believe pledges made mean the world is currently on track to an expected temperature rise of around 2.7°C.
This means that developing countries already suffering the impacts of climate change – who are not responsible for the scale of emissions causing the damage – remain at continued and increasing risk.
This was most notably demonstrated by the Tuvalu representative who delivered a speech standing in water to demonstrate how his nation is threatened by rising water levels –
A goal for adaptation finance was agreed, to fund adjustments to deal with climate change, was agreed and whilst a commitment to double existing pledges was reached, it remains below what developing countries asked for and need. Developing countries, representing over 6 billion people, therefore put forward a loss and damage finance facility – where countries have been unable to adapt to changes and to build back in the aftermath of extreme weather events linked to climate change – but this was blocked by the most wealthy and polluting nations.
From vaccine justice to climate justice, wealthy nations are prioritising their own economies and placing burdens on those lower income countries, even where millions of lives are at risk.
Those of us in the UK need to join these campaigns and put pressure on our political institutions to change their agenda.
Join us on 5th March to discuss the Global Struggle for Climate & Vaccine Justice with: Diane Abbott MP; Jon Trickett MP; Nick Dearden, Global Justice Now; Gyeke Tanoh, Third World Solidarity Network, Ghana; War on Want; Mish Rahman, NEC & Momentum; and many more speakers throughout the day.
- “Making Another World Possible – An International Agenda for the Left & Labour” takes place online from 1PM, Saturday March 5th. Join the discussion on the Global Struggle for Climate and Vaccine Justice; plus more by registering here.
- You can follow Arise Festival on YouTube, twitter and Facebook.