When the UN climate talks come to Glasgow this November, we need nothing short of urgent climate action based on justice across the world. Those on the frontlines of the climate crisis will be central to this, and must be front and centre at the negotiations.
But frontline, Global South and other marginalised communities will face many obstacles even getting to Glasgow for COP26. One huge problem will be navigating the UK Home Office’s unjust immigration system to obtain a visit visa - a system that often makes deeply discriminatory decisions, refuses the right to appeal, and is made up of a complex documentation process that penalises poorer applicants. And this year, there are even more hurdles: from new Brexit rules to unequal vaccine rollouts and possible quarantine restrictions.
To ensure that Global South communities do not continue to get side-lined, we must stand in solidarity with their activists and delegates. The COP26 Coalition is working to provide support in overcoming the huge hurdles of obtaining visit visas - and we need your help to do so.
We’re setting up a Visa Support Service to assist people from predominantly Global South countries who are applying for visas for COP26. We’re working with a qualified immigration solicitor to support them to navigate the visa system - from sending out detailed instructions to each applicant and checking applications before submission; to preparing for in-person interviews and providing a checklist for crossing the UK border. This support will be critical in boosting their chances of obtaining the visit visa they need.
Our Visa Support Service will launch in late July 2021 and will prioritise Global South applicants coming to COP to fight for climate justice.
We believe Global South participation at COP26 is crucial to ensuring just climate solutions. But we need the funding to make it happen.
Our £20,000 target will pay for a qualified immigration solicitor to check at least 200 applications before they’re submitted and support applicants through the visa process.
We’ve already been inundated with requests for assistance from Global South activists eager to shape the negotiations in Glasgow.
And the more money we raise, the more people we can support - increasing Global South participation at COP26.
We’re asking everyone to chip in as much as they can - no donation is too small.
- £50 covers the cost of a call with a lawyer to offer advice on visa documentation
- £200 allows us to support an applicant navigate the complex UK visa system
- £500 covers the cost of a more challenging application, for example assisting someone facing persecution in their home country for their work on the environment
Demand for visa support is high - so the more we raise, the better. If we raise more than we need, we’ll direct any surplus money into projects that share the aim of supporting Global South participation at COP, for example our International Travel Fund.
The COP26 Coalition is an international civil society coalition of groups and individuals organising towards mobilising around climate justice during COP26. Coalition members include environment and development NGOs, trade unions, grassroots community campaigns, faith groups, youth groups, migrant and racial justice networks.
We’re dedicated to increasing Global South participation, even amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic. As well as our Visa Support Service, we’re setting up an International Travel Fund for people from Global South countries who need financial support to cover travel costs. You can find more information about our plans here.
We cannot tackle the multiple crises and the system of injustices we face if those most affected are not able to properly participate in decision-making spaces. Members of the Global South have made clear why in-person attendance is crucial for effective participation and raised serious concerns about the challenges that virtual participation in the summit pose to their accessibility. These concerns were proven right at the virtual pre-COP negotiations in June 2021.
Those bearing the brunt of the climate crisis are the least responsible for emissions - and also hold many of the systemic solutions we need to adequately address climate change. It’s therefore critical that as many Global South voices as possible are inside the negotiations to shape the outcomes towards climate justice.
We’re in partnership with legal social enterprise Teneu Legal who will provide their expertise assisting with visit visa applications. Teneu Legal are offering their services at a heavily reduced fee so we can assist as many people as possible.
It’s true that Covid is making planning for COP particularly difficult. However, the UK Government has maintained throughout the pandemic that COP will happen in-person in Glasgow and will be ‘inclusive’ to Global South participants.
In the event that the conference is postponed or moved online, we will make a decision as to how the money raised can further Global South participation - either at a rescheduled COP or supporting access to COP26 from afar, for example funding better internet access, streaming and translation.