Doubts over Glasgow hosting COP26 continue

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Westminsters officials have been holding talks with a major London venue about taking over the international summit

12th February 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Further doubts have been raised around a major climate summit being hosted in Glasgow later this year.

The COP 26 summit is set to be held at the SEC in November, however rumours have been rife that the major event could be relocated to London due to concerns over costs.

Last week, former president of the event Claire O’Neill said there had been moves made by the UK government to consider moving the summit to England amid fears over the cost of hosting the conference in Scotland.

Both Downing Street and the Scottish Government denied the claims.

However today (Wednesday, 12 February) the Financial Times reported that Westminster officials had opened talks with ExCel London about moving the event.

Government officials confirmed representatives have been negotiating with the east London venue as a “fallback option”. “It’s normal for an event of this magnitude to have contingency measures,” said one. “We are pretty committed to Scotland.” ExCeL London refused to comment.

It is understood the talks have centred around whether other events scheduled at ExCel could be moved to make way for COP26 if necessary.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie asserted the summit must take place in Glasgow.

“Glasgow has the infrastructure and venue to host the COP international summit,” he said. “We also have many people keen to challenge the UK and Scottish Governments on their lack of action tackling the climate emergency. Glasgow has a fantastic opportunity to use the platform to be heard.

“The UK government has already left the world wondering if it is serious about this conference. They’ve sacked the person in charge, they’ve shown more interest in union flags and provoking a spat with the Scottish Government, and they have shown none of the leadership that’s needed. If they now can’t even decide which venue to book, they will lose any remaining shred of credibility.

“They should confirm Glasgow as the venue, appoint a genuine climate leader to chair the conference, and then start the urgent job of building support for the radical change of direction that the climate emergency demands.”

The report came as both the Scottish and Westminster governments stressed the need for cooperation around the summit.

Speaking at a conference in London, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "There are plenty of issues Boris Johnson and I can have squabbles about. This really should not be one of them.

"I personally and my government are committed absolutely and unequivocally to working closely and constructively with the UK government and with other partners in preparing for the COP26."

UK cabinet minister Michael Gove told the same event that the two governments were working together "very well".

The city won the bid to host the United Nations’ 26th Conference of the Parties, known as COP26, following a partnership with Italy.

Some 30,000 delegates and 200 world leaders are expected to attend the event at Glasgow's Scottish Events Campus (SEC) at the end of next year.

The event has been described as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015.