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Some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries have been forced to scale back their attendance at the COP26 climate summit due to COVID-19 travel curbs and costs, blunting their negotiating power, according to Fiji’s U.N. ambassador.

Border closures, quarantine rules and high travel costs will see small island states and poorer nations sending smaller delegations, with some leaders unable to travel to the key United Nations’ climate talks that start in Scotland on October 31.

Only four leaders from Pacific island states — Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and Palau — are due to attend the COP26 conference in person, according to Satyendra Prasad, Fiji’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

“The stakes could not be higher, but it’s a very difficult situation,” Mr. Prasad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York, where he is based.

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