Cop26: Travel delays, queues and a strike – the chaotic start to tackling climate change

Delayed traveller calls disruption a sign of things to come if the world fails to address climate change

The long road to the Cop26 summit in Glasgow has got longer. After delegates were delayed at the weekend by travel problems caused by extreme weather, hundreds reported queues of several hours at the venue in the Scottish city.

About 25,000 people have descended on the Scottish Event Campus for the opening of international climate talks, with Covid-19 restrictions and airport-style security delaying entry to the venue. The venue has been handed over to the UN for the 12-day duration of the conference.

The conference was delayed for a year because of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020. Now, the rescheduled event has had a troubled start with a fallen tree across a train track cancelling rail services from London to Glasgow on Sunday, forcing some to book domestic flights to reach the city.

Train operators told travellers to avoid making the journey as knock-on delays continued into Monday.

Street cleaners and refuse collectors have gone on strike in Glasgow over a long-running dispute over pay. The strike, called by the GMB union, was expected to continue throughout the first week of Cop26.

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said there was no reason for the strike to go ahead as unions were considering a new pay offer. “It is very disappointing the GMB has opted for this course of action,” she said.

The travel disruption, caused by stormy weather bringing down trees and overhead power lines, was a sign of things to come if the world failed to address climate change, some travellers said.

Climate change scientist Simon Lewis said he was stuck on a train for hours as a result of the disruption.

The 49-year-old professor from University College London said: “This is inconvenient and a reminder that climate change drives extreme weather events and every country needs to adapt.

"A stopped train is nothing compared to the two million people displaced by flooding in Shanxi province in China last month and those facing famine today in Madagascar."

About 120 heads of state and government are set to attend the world leaders' summit at the start of the talks.

US President Joe Biden – who flew in to Edinburgh on Monday – and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those attending the talks, although the heads of major economies, including China's Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not be present.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 1:18 PM