Why Global Citizens Should Care
Many low-income countries, which are most affected by climate change, have been denied equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The United Nations urges countries to pursue vaccine equity. You can join us in taking action on related issues here

In a pointed Twitter thread, Greta Thunberg said that “vaccine nationalism” threatens to make the pandemic worse and that public health in general is inseparable from the climate crisis.

She said that she won’t attend the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow starting on Nov. 1 “unless everyone can take part on the same terms” by receiving a vaccine. 

Vaccine nationalism is when a country seeks to vaccinate its entire population before supporting vaccine efforts elsewhere. This tendency ignores the advice of public health experts, who say that at-risk groups need to be vaccinated first regardless of their nationality. Vaccine nationalism also includes the refusal of companies and countries to release the intellectual property of vaccines into the public domain, a move that would allow for vaccines to be manufactured on a much larger scale.

Thunberg made this critique in context of COP26, saying that it should be postponed or moved online because of the pandemic. Otherwise, attending the event will put people from the poorest countries who haven’t been vaccinated at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

COP26 has a stated mission of “show[ing] that the world is able to work together to tackle this crucial challenge.” By not advancing vaccine equity, countries are failing to look beyond their borders for the shared purpose of overcoming COVID-19, Thunberg said. After all, the pandemic will keep evolving as long as people remain unvaccinated. A strain of COVID-19 that emerges in the months ahead could even render existing vaccines ineffective

Over the past few years, Thunberg has emerged as a leading force in the climate movement. She created the youth climate protest #FridaysForFuture, and has spoken on some of the world’s biggest stages with her trademark bluntness

She’s used her platform to champion intersectionality, calling attention to global injustices and the legacy of colonialism. She has urged countries to follow the wisdom of Indigenous peoples and elevated the voices of youth activists in the Global South.

In her Twitter thread, she criticized how the lack of high speed internet in much of the world prevents billions of people from fully participating in the global economy and climate solutions.

She also cast aside the entire notion of COP26 as a jumping off point for climate action. 

“We don’t have to wait for conferences nor anyone or anything else to dramatically start reducing our emissions,” she said. “Solidarity and action can start today.”


Defend the Planet

Greta Thunberg Explains Why Vaccine Nationalism Is a Threat to True Climate Justice

By Joe McCarthy