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The global vaccine crisis sends an ominous signal to fight climate change


Brazil’s right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro despised the public health guidelines, insisting that lockdowns and mobility restrictions would pose a greater threat to the country’s weak economy. Brazil now has one of the world’s highest death tolls and its economy is in tatters.

India’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who boasted of conquering the virus earlier this year, allowed large religious and political gatherings. And instead of securing vaccines for India’s 1.4 billion citizens, India began exporting cans made in India to other countries. Today, India is the hardest hit country in the world, with nearly 380,000 new infections per day over the past seven days.

The long-running global struggle for intellectual property rights in pharmaceuticals also runs parallel to climate action. The Paris Climate Agreement explicitly calls for technology transfer to develop a clean energy infrastructure. Developing countries have long said they cannot cope with the effects of climate change if the rich world does not share money and technology, and this problem is only exacerbated by the economic collapse caused by the pandemic and unequal access to vaccines.

Last but not least, the consequences of global warming are unequal and hurt the poorest people in poor countries the hardest.

“When the rich countries have acted this way in a global crisis – where they first attended to their own needs, took care of businesses, and failed to realize that this was an opportunity to get involved and show solidarity – then there is no good track record of how they will behave in the face of other global crises like the climate crisis, where poorer countries will bear the heaviest burdens, ”said Tasneem Essop, a former government official from South Africa who is now the executive director of Climate Action is a network, an advocacy group.

Money is at the heart of distrust.

The Biden government pledged to double grants and loans to developing countries to $ 5.7 billion a year, a goal that is widely viewed as inadequate and falls short of pledges from other wealthy developed nations, particularly Europe. Many low- and middle-income countries have so much debt that they have nothing left to convert their economies for the climate. In addition, the rich world has not yet fulfilled its promise to raise $ 100 billion annually that could be used for green projects like solar parks or mangrove restoration.

“Either way, it’s about a willingness to reallocate resources,” said Rohini Pande, an economist at Yale University.

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