COP26: civil society denounces an event “for VIP”

“This is the least inclusive COP that I have known and I have known eight! “, Dorothy Grace Guerrero, of the Global Justice association, immediately launched at the start of the climate summit on 1is November. This frustration was still very present after a frantic first week of negotiations, for the thousands of observers, members of delegations and representatives of civil society who converged in Glasgow (Scotland) to make their voices heard.

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Big organizational problems added to the stress of an extraordinary conference – 30,000 accredited people, coming from at least 120 different countries, dozens of round tables, press conferences or simultaneous educational workshops. Participants had to wait for several hours daily, without any possible physical distancing, to enter the only compound of the Scottish Event Campus, a soulless conference space along the River Clyde. The response of the organizers, the British government, to the inconvenience? An email of apologies, and advice: “In the event of bad weather, bring appropriate clothing. ”

Even harsher: Karine Elharrar, the Israeli energy minister, was unable to access the COP on Monday, the organizers having refused to allow the car driving this politician in a wheelchair to enter the enclosure of the conference. Inside the latter, we also had to queue everywhere. Especially at the food stands, where the cafes are charged 3 pounds sterling (3.50 euros) and the portion of soup five pounds – expenses that burden the tightest budgets, already very tested by the delusional prices practiced without scruple by many hoteliers and private rental companies on the Airbnb platform during COP26.

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Health constraints

Some have even accused Glasgow of “VIP summit” – we met Prince Charles, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, or Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. Sunday October 31, MailOnline has counted at least 52 jets at Glasgow Airport. “This COP is a press relations event, a celebration of business as usual”, said activist Greta Thunberg, during the climate protest that brought together thousands of young people in the streets of Glasgow on Friday 5 November.

The British government defended itself by invoking the health constraints linked to the Covid-19 pandemic: “This is the largest conference ever organized by our country”, pleaded Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26. “The places are large, but we had to drastically limit the number of places in the meeting rooms, because of the coronavirus”, Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, justified herself.

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COP26: civil society denounces an event “for VIP”