DIwali candles in pretty terracotta pots are stacked around the counter of the Suresh & Sons grocery store in Finnieston, the Glasgow district that borders the United Nations-run ‘blue zone’ of the Scottish Event Campus. Next weekend, more than 30,000 delegates from 196 countries will gather in the area for the crucial two-week COP26 climate conference.
Four days after the event started is the Hindu festival of lights, explains Leena Kumar. The council advised him to talk to suppliers about stock delivery before road closures start this weekend, but it’s not that easy, he says. “We are well informed, but we still do not know what is going to happen,” he laughs.
Like many Finnieston residents, Kumar is philosophical about the clash between local inconvenience and global importance. “The kids are excited about the famous visitors and they are talking a lot about the weather at school. It will be difficult, but this meeting is about the future of the world ”.
Glasgow City Council sent 9,000 letters to residents and businesses in the areas of the city most likely to be affected by the unprecedented influx of politicians, security, advocates and protesters. The Get Ready Glasgow website and regular e-newsletters have been running for months, though critics say the information has been too web-centric, but there have also been walk-ins, community council meetings, and door-to-door visits.
Along Argyle Street, commonly referred to as one of the UK’s trendiest neighborhoods, locals are ambivalent. The pizzeria is concerned about how its delivery drivers will pick up the orders. The vegan cafe has hired additional staff. High-end restaurants report blocked reservations: “In November, every day is Saturday,” says a chef.
It’s special to the city, says Gillian McIntyre, the owner of the Mayze coffee shop, standing in front of a window full of sparkly frosted cakes: “People will talk about it for years and it has ‘Glasgow’ in the title. You hear reports that this is humanity’s last chance, and it’s happening right there, ”he says, pointing down Minerva Street toward the blue zone.
Further down that street, to the left you can rent a two-bedroom apartment for £ 1,024 a night, and to the right there is another available for £ 1,638. Both are new listings on Airbnb and available only during the conference, perhaps evidence that locals are embracing the company’s incentive to donate all proceeds from stays during the summit to the Zero Waste Scotland advisory group.
With some 30,000 delegates expected, but only some 15,000 hotel rooms in Glasgow, there is a large accommodation deficit, and some delegations have been forced to book hotels more than 100 miles from the venue. UK government contractors have chartered two Estonian-based cruise ships docked on the Clyde to provide rooms for security staff and production staff.
Those without unlimited resources are struggling even harder. The Cop26 Homestay Network, which launched in May, aims to unite hosts from across Scotland’s central belt with visiting activists, scientists and non-governmental organizations. Backed by the Scottish government, some 1,000 Glasgow residents have signed up, but the waiting list remains at 2,500, adding to fears that those with the most direct experience of the climate crisis will be excluded from the event.
Christy Mearns, a Glasgow councilor representing inner-city neighborhoods near the blue zone, along with colleagues from Scottish Green have been in contact with La Minga Indígena, a group of approximately 140 tribal leaders who have all attended the cops from Rio de Janeiro in 1992, but they are stuck without rooms in Glasgow.
Mearns has been pushing Glasgow city council to consider more creative options: At previous summits, the local government worked with activists to provide hostel-style accommodation for those who couldn’t afford expensive hotel rooms, turning gyms and community centers into barracks. While acknowledging that the Covid-19 restrictions add an additional layer of difficulty this year, it describes its lack of practical action as “deeply disappointing.”
The council has also faced mockery over the state of the city’s streets, with reduced trash pickups, rat infestation and an increase in flies dumping taking a visible price. Earlier this week, garbage workers confirmed they planned to strike during the conference, amid growing anxiety that the city’s summit arrangements are turning into chaos.
The RMT union confirmed last week that members working for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper will take industrial action for the duration of Cop26, while ScotRail engineers are also planning a series of 24-hour stoppages, both as a result of disputes. wages.
Meanwhile, criminal defense lawyers threaten to boycott the Scottish government’s plans to deal with the potential arrests of hundreds of protesters every day, amid a dispute over cuts in funding for legal aid, with senior legal figures level warning about cell overflow.
While the UK government, as chairman of the Cop, is responsible for organizing the conference and all costs, sources have been quick to blame the Scottish government and the Scottish National Party-led council for allowing so many disputes to unfold. rally around Cop, with warnings from the opposition. matches that Glasgow is about to be humiliated on the world stage.
Glasgow City Council has urged cleaning workers to reconsider going on strike during a “busy and difficult time”, while Transport Scotland says it hopes to engage in constructive talks between all parties before the summit begins.
In addition to the ticketed greenbelt across the river from the main conference site, which is open to the public and civil society groups, visitors to Glasgow can attend a host of events at emerging venues throughout the city.
But this exchange of ideas comes at a cost: Devi Sridhar, Edinburgh-based professor of global public health, tweeted Thursday: “A massive event, with a great movement in and out of people, with an infectious virus will cause an increase in cases. What in the case of Covid will put emphasis on limited health services. “
Paul Sweeney, the Scottish Labor MSP for the Glasgow region, said: “It feels like something is happening to the city rather than in its favor, and there is no vision to use it as a springboard for recovery from the pandemic. “.
Contrast Cop26 with Glasgow’s organization of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, “when every part of the city felt involved.” “There is an air of ambivalence, especially in the context of cuts and disputes, places in limbo and transportation problems.
“It feels like we’ve been caught half dressed.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism