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Activists battle curbs to make key talks

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Reuters | October 26th 2021

Environmental activist Goodness Dickson, of Eco Clean Active Initiative, picks up a waste item at a dumpsite in Abuja, Nigeria. [Reuters]

Nigerian climate activist Goodness Dickson thought being invited to take part in the U.N. climate summit in Scotland meant he would have no trouble attending.

But the high cost of hotels, Covid-19 travel curbs and quarantine rules have left Dickson and other activists from developing countries concerned that their voices will not be heard at the COP26 conference in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

Reuters spoke with activists in countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Uganda. Some had secured funding, visas and vaccines to attend the summit but others gave up.

Dickson is still aiming to get to COP26, where he hopes to tell delegates in person about trying to learn at school when temperatures reached 43°C. He believes developed countries need to hear the personal experiences of those most vulnerable to climate change.

People take part in a Climate March ahead of the COP26 climate summit, in Brussels, Belgium October 10, 2021. [Reuters]

“I’m still looking out for funding,” said the 28-year-old, who represents Nigeria’s Eco Clean Active NGO and estimates his trip would cost over $4,000 including accommodation and quarantine.

"I am worried that the COP will lack representation from the African continent."

The summit’s British hosts have offered some funding assistance and vaccines for delegates who could not otherwise access them.

"We are working tirelessly with all our partners, including the Scottish government and the UN, to ensure an inclusive, accessible and safe summit in Glasgow with a comprehensive set of Covid mitigation measures,” a COP26 spokesperson said, adding that government-approved hotel provider MCI had offered delegates a range of fairly-priced accommodation.

The United Kingdom this month scrapped quarantine requirements for 47 countries including South Africa and India, sparing delegates the 2,285 pounds (Sh349,650) cost of a 10-day hotel quarantine.

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