Global vaccine crisis sends worrying signal to fight climate change

Brazil’s right-wing populist president Jair Bolsonaro despised public health advice 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 hardest hit country worldwide, with nearly 380,000 new infections per day in 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 compounded 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.

“If this is how rich countries behaved in a global crisis – where they first took care of their own needs, took care of business, failed to recognize that it was an opportunity to strain hand up and show solidarity – then there is no record right track of how they will conduct themselves in other global crises, such as the climate crisis, where the poorest countries will bear the burdens the highest, ”said Tasneem Essop, a former South African government official who is now executive director of Climate Action Network, an advocacy group.

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.

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