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Global vaccine crisis sends worrying signal to fight climate change


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

India’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who boasted earlier this year of beating the virus, has authorized large religious and political gatherings. And instead of securing vaccines for India’s 1.4 billion citizens, India has started exporting Indian-made doses to other countries. Today, India has become the worst affected country in the world, with nearly 380,000 new infections per day over the past seven days.

The long global battle over intellectual property rights to medicines also has a parallel with climate action, with the Paris climate agreement explicitly calling for technology transfer to develop clean energy infrastructure. Developing countries have long said that they cannot cope with the effects of climate change if the rich world does not share the money and technology, and this problem is only made worse by the economic collapse caused by the pandemic and inequitable access to vaccines.

Above all, the consequences of global warming are unequal and hurt the poorest of poor countries the most. “The issue of vaccine solidarity is very much related to some of the lessons we should learn for climate solidarity,” said Tasneem Essop, a former South African government official who is now executive director of Climate Action Network, a group of defense of rights. Ms Essop noted that rich countries “look after their own needs, with no idea of ​​looking outwards.”

Money is at the heart of mistrust.

The Biden administration has pledged to double grants and loans to developing countries to $ 5.7 billion a year, a target widely seen as both under and behind pledges from other wealthy industrialized countries. especially in Europe. Many low- and middle-income countries are so in debt that they say it leaves them nothing to reorganize their economies for the climate age. Additionally, the rich world has yet to deliver on its pledge to raise $ 100 billion a year that could be used for green projects, be it solar farms or mangrove restoration.

“In both cases, it’s a desire to redistribute resources,” said Rohini Pande, an economist at Yale University.

In the case of the coronavirus response, it’s about helping vaccine makers around the world manufacture billions of doses in a matter of months. In the case of climate change, huge sums of money are needed to help developing countries retool their energy systems from dirty sources like coal.



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