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COP26 criticised For lack of accessible facilities

COP26 logo
COP26 logo Image credit: medium.com

Israel’s energy minister, Karine Elharrar made headlines earlier this week after there was no suitable transport to accommodate her wheelchair to the first day of COP26 in Glasgow, but she wasn’t the only person to raise concerns about the lack of access at the conference.

On Tuesday the U.S. Climate Action Network (USAN) – a coalition of major environmental advocacy groups – sent a message to Trigg Talley, director of the Office of Global Change at Sea Department, highlighting the lack of “transparency and access” available at the event.

The message states: “We are alarmed by the lack of access at this COP, and implore US Officials in their party capacity of the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] to advocate for more access to observers to the various negotiation sessions and meetings.”

Inside the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) delegates, activists and the media are struggling to find suitable places to work, a lack of chairs means many have to use their laptops standing or squatting on the floor.

There were reports of long queues outside the venue and in the food hall on the first two days, there are no cups next to water coolers and no water bottles, which begs the question how would a percentage of disabled people cope?

USAN’s letter said: “These are people that came here with the expectation that they would be able to participate, and they are not able to.”

In response to the concern raised around the insufficient facilities the UNFCCC, the organising body of COP26, lumped the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their statement read: “The COVID-19 pandemic means that UNFCCC and the UK host government had to put many safety measures in place to protect the health of all participants.

“This has meant reducing access to many spaces within the venue to ensure social distancing can be maintained as well as having to reduce the security and registration lanes in line with Covid-19-related protocols.”

However, the statement did not make any reference to the facilities provided for people with disabilities.

Around 55,000 people are expected to attend the COP26 conference.