Protesters, detours and delays at Cop26

Police apologise after women forced to take long detours in the dark

After train delays marred the arrival in Glasgow for many delegates at COp26, the first few days of the summit were also less than smooth as security issues, traffic delays and a series of protests caused disruption.

The Extinction Rebellion group marched on Wednesday through the city centre, a day after about 200 climate activists on Tuesday demonstrated outside the Glasgow office of multinational bank JP Morgan, about a kilometre and a half from where Cop26 is taking place.

Extinction Rebellion, which blocked the road, is protesting against the bank's funding of fossil fuels. They had earlier protested outside the Edinburgh office of JP Morgan.

A series of demonstrations organised by different groups have taken place in Glasgow during the presence of world leaders in the city for the climate summit.

A Squid Game-themed demonstration accused world leaders of playing deadly games with the planet.

“World leaders need to agree on a plan to keep warming well below 1.5°C and put up money to fund a just transition across the global south,” said Andrew Nazdin, director of the Glasgow Actions Team, who organised the event.

Detours

Police apologised after it was reported that women were forced to take long detours in the dark and through a park while part of Glasgow was cordoned off during a reception for world leaders at Cop26.

“While late changes and some level of disruption is inevitable when policing an event the size and scale of Cop26, we understand and apologise for the concern these changes caused and for the inconvenience to those diverted,” said Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie.

“We do, in particular, recognise and acknowledge the commentary from some women who had to walk through the park on their own last night. We want to keep everyone safe and we know that the onus is on us to recognise when we could provide some more support and visibility to reassure people in our communities.

“The diversion is no longer in place and there are no plans to reintroduce it. Should further diversions be required at short notice for operational purposes, we will look to establish additional patrols in the area to provide reassurance.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was concerned over the reports, but insisted that police had overall done good work during Cop26.

“It won’t surprise you to hear that I would have concerns about any suggestion that women were put into what even they would feel was a position of not being safe,” she said.

Among those in attendance was Hollywood actor and climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio.

Queues

Delegates at the UN climate summit faced lengthy queues on the first two days of the event.

Attendees must provide proof of a negative coronavirus test and their accreditation ID before they can pass through turnstiles into the area where Cop26 is being held.

Once past the perimeter fence, they must go through scanners in a security hall.

The UK government was earlier forced to apologise to an Israeli minister after she was unable to attend the opening day of the Cop26 conference because of a lack of wheelchair access.

“We deeply regret that incident,” said Environment Secretary George Eustice.

“What would normally happen in this situation is that Israel would have communicated that they had that particular need for their minister.

“There was obviously something that went wrong in this instance and they weren’t aware of that and so they hadn’t made the right provisions at the particular entrance she was coming to,” he told the BBC.

With Covid-19 still a threat in the UK, health experts have raised concerns that the virus could spread because of the long wait that delegates faced getting into the arena.

“It is really concerning, this week I have been quite anxious seeing all that and knowing how fragile the situation has been," Prof Devi Sridhar, a professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told the BBC.

“We’ve controlled the situation for quite a long time. Can we control it even after this big gathering, that’s the question. Will it lead to a spike, will it lead to a wave, will the mitigation measures have been enough?

“I know they thought a lot about making sure people were fully vaccinated, people were testing, it’s a really tricky one because obviously this is the worst timing ever during a pandemic, but at the same time I listened to those people who work in climate and they are saying now is the time, if not now we have an existential threat to humanity.”

Each person attending Cop26 must show proof of a negative coronavirus test and people were also asked to provide information about their vaccination status as part of the accreditation process.

Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, on Tuesday said that the “scale and worldwide draw” of the summit – which has attracted more than 120 world leaders – “poses a risk of spread of Covid-19 both within delegates and to or from the local population of Scotland and the UK”.

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 3:38 PM
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