Will Greta Thunberg be at COP26? What climate change activist said about attendance at Glasgow summit

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has shared some strong opinions about attending COP26.

With the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, just around the corner, more and more high profile names are stacking up online.

Greta Thunberg’s name has become synonymous with climate activism in recent years, so it seemed likely at first that she would attend the upcoming event at the end of November.

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However, recent tweets and comments from the young activist have made it less clear as to whether Ms Thunberg will be joining world leaders and decision-makers at the climate conference.

What is COP26?

COP26 is a global event, due to be held in Glasgow from October 31st to November 12th, 2021, that aims to accelerate action that contributes to the UN’s climate goals. It is expected to attract world leaders from all over the world, as well as respected climate activists and cultural figures. For example, Sir David Attenborough has been named the COP26 People’s Advocate and Pope Francis also confirmed his attendance.

Because of her past high-profile speeches and activism, it’s logical that Thunberg may well be in attendance. Nonetheless, she hasn’t held back from criticising the event and its organisational practices.

What did Greta Thunberg say about COP26?

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg has openly shared her thoughts about attending COP26 on Twitter. Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, FileClimate change activist Greta Thunberg has openly shared her thoughts about attending COP26 on Twitter. Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File
Climate change activist Greta Thunberg has openly shared her thoughts about attending COP26 on Twitter. Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File

In April this year, Ms Thunberg tweeted criticism about COP26 that cast doubt on whether she would attend the conference.

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"Of course I would love to attend the Glasgow #COP26,” she wrote. “But not unless everyone can take part on the same terms. Right now many countries are vaccinating healthy young people, often at the expense of risk groups and front line workers (mainly from global south, as usual...)

"Inequality and climate injustice is already the heart of the climate crisis. If people can’t be vaccinated and travel to be represented equally that’s undemocratic and would worsen the problem. Vaccine nationalism won’t solve the pandemic. Global problems need global solutions.”

For Ms Thunberg, a digital conference also wouldn’t be far to stakeholders and nations around the globe.

“A digital solution is of course far from optimal,” Ms Thunberg continued. “High speed internet connection and access to computers is extremely unequal in the world. In that case we would lack representation from those whose voices need to be heard the most when it comes to the climate crisis.”

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Ms Thunberg went on to emphasise that delaying the conference due to the pandemic shouldn’t mean that urgent climate action should also fall behind.

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

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In a recent interview with the BBC, Ms Thunberg once again didn’t hold back in criticising summits like COP26.

"The change is going to come when people are demanding change,” said Ms Thunberg. “So we can't expect everything to happen at these conferences."

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"In my view, success would be that people finally start to realise the urgency of the situation and realise that we are facing an existential crisis, and that we are going to need big changes, that we're going to need to uproot the system, because that's where the change is going to come,” she continued.

Will Greta Thunberg attend COP26?

Since then, the UK government has made assurances that all delegates will be vaccinated ahead of attending COP26. As a result, Ms Thunberg has changed her stance, as confirmed in a statement she gave after the publication of the UN’s IPCC Report on August 9th, 2021.

"I've said before that I wasn't going to go if it wasn't fair,” Ms Thunberg said. “But now they say that they will vaccinate all the delegates that are going there. If that's considered fair and safe, then I will hopefully attend."

Although she still sounds cautious about confirming her attendance fully, if the UK government sticks to the current vaccination plan, this seems to be enough for Ms Thunberg to take part in the conference.