The Cop26 Glasgow “Gold Rush”: Where Will All the Delegates Stay?
More than 25,000 people will descend on Glasgow when the Scottish city hosts the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (Cop26). Over the 13 days of the summit, politicians and delegates will discuss how to tackle the global climate crisis, but before the event another major issue arose: where will everyone stay?
Running from October 31 to November 12, Cop26 will be held at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), located on the banks of the River Clyde. The summit was billed as the “biggest political rally ever in the UK”, GlasgowLive reported. And every UN member has been invited, which means nearly 120 heads of state are expected with around 20,000 accredited delegates, the BBC added.
Participants have already faced a number of “hurdles,” including Covid-19 travel restrictions and testing requirements, the FT noted. However, getting a bed in the host city “turns out to be the most difficult obstacle of all”.
High profile visitors such as the Queen and US President Joe Biden will have no trouble finding a place to stay. But for other visitors to Glasgow, the city faces a “housing crisis” with rental costs “skyrocketing” and hotels booked, the Daily check-in reported.
Glasgow owners are looking to take advantage of the influx of visitors, with some asking for up to £ 36,000 to rent an apartment for the Cop26 fortnight, the FT said. “A single room at the Smiths Hotel in Finnieston, a 15-minute walk from the venue, is priced at £ 14,000 for the two weeks of the event, before dropping to just £ 903 for the next two weeks.”
The “squeeze” on available accommodation has pushed up prices in Glasgow, BBC Scotland reported. On Monday a room in the city was advertised for £ 42 per night, but during the summit it would cost £ 1,400 per night.
Fiona Hooker, of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland campaign, said the cost and availability of accommodation was “of huge concern” to activists attending the summit. “It’s amazing that they can charge so much,” she told the BBC. “What people are looking for is a place to stay with a local and the chance to feel part of the event.”
Cop26 fever spreads to Edinburgh
Glasgow’s ‘gold rush’ has now spread to Edinburgh, 40 miles east of the host city of Cop26, The telegraph reported. Summit participants are trying to “protect their wallets by going further” in the Scottish capital, but many will be “disappointed”.
A price review by The Telegraph found that on Monday the average for a room in Edinburgh on Airbnb was £ 315, while during the summit some hosts were charging over £ 3,000 per night, or £ 36,000 for the whole conference.
The official Cop26 website has ordered delegates to stay in Edinburgh since at least September, the FT reported. And all beds under contract with the official host, MCI, have been filled. Tagaloa Cooper-Halo, who coordinates several Pacific Island delegations, said the closest available accommodation is in Edinburgh. “Our people come from the other side of the world,” she said. “It’s going to be really tough.”
Covid fears on cruise ships
Conference staff in Glasgow will be accommodated on two huge cruise ships which will be moored on the River Clyde during the summit, GlasgowLive reported. Tallink’s MS Romantika, with a capacity of 2,500 people, has already moored at the King George V quay and a second ship, the MS Silja Europa, will provide 3,123 additional beds.
Public health experts have warned that the use of the ships could lead to Covid outbreaks and trigger a new wave of infections.
Dr Rowland Kao, professor of epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said cruise ships are likely places with high transmission of Covid-19 because of the confined spaces, especially if there is poor ventilation where people come in close contact. “Given the transmissibility of the Delta variant, even for people who have been vaccinated there will be risks,” he said. “So a lot of testing is going to be important.”
Dr Jeremy Rossman, Honorary Lecturer in Virology at the University of Kent, added: “We have already seen for the G7 summit in Cornwall the dramatic increase in the number of cases after the meeting. It is very possible that something similar could happen with the Cop26 meeting unless significant precautions are taken, which, given the easing of restrictions in Scotland, seems unlikely. “