Sturgeon’s COP26 shamed as ‘most exclusionary’ as climate activists descend on Glasgow

Boris Johnson avoids questions on sacking of COP26 president

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The COP26 Homestay Network, launched in May, tries to match local hosts from across the central belt of Scotland with those who will be attending the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, including activists, scientists and non-governmental organisations. But so far, the organization has only linked up 211 guests with local hosts. There are still 1,783 more people on the waiting list who have not been able to sort out a place to stay for the summit.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the COP26 Coalition – who set up the network– fear that official delegates from poorer nations and people who hope to attend events alongside the summit can’t find any affordable rooms for their stay.

They have said that at previous summits, local governments have helped by working with activists to provide cheaper accommodation through setting up hostel-style housing, converting places like gym halls and community centres into bunk halls.

The campaigners have now slammed Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government for not doing the same, although they did recognize things are made more complicated by COVID-19 restrictions.

Rituraj Phukan, the founder of the India-based Indigenous People’s Climate Justice Forum, managed to find a room via the COP26 Homestay Network but said he knew a lot of people who have been struggling to find an affordable place.

He said: “Many of my colleagues representing indigenous people’s organisations are concerned about the uncertainty with access to vaccines, travel restrictions and lack of accommodation.

“It’s impossible for people outside the global south to imagine the impact our communities are already facing from climate change.

“If they are not represented because they have nowhere to stay that would be totally unjust.”

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, warned the event is building up to be the “most exclusionary COP ever”.

She added: “If the UK Government insists on forging ahead with this, despite calls for further postponement this week, they have to be thinking about how to safely facilitate and house people coming to Glasgow to influence and participate in the summit.”

The Homestay Network has also said that would-be visitors have informed them they were so overwhelmed by logistical challenges and uncertainties as the COP approaches that they have not even had enough time to think about their aims for the summit.

And while the Government announced this week a quarantine support package for red-list country delegates with accreditation, it does not cover time spent at the climate summit itself.

The package doesn’t also account for civil society groups with no official accreditation coming to Glasgow to participate in green zone or other events.

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