COP26: Queueing chaos hits opening of vital climate change conference

Attendees queue to pass security and enter the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow on November 1, 2021 on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. - More than 120 world leaders meet in Glasgow in a
Attendees queue to pass security and enter the SEC in Glasgow on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. (AFP via Getty Images)

A vital climate summit in Glasgow is off to a poor start as lengthy queues impacted some of the tens of thousands of delegates and visitors attending.

COP26, a conference widely described as the key part of humanity’s last chance to prevent catastrophic warming of the planet, kicks off in full swing on Monday.

The summit is set to host more than 25,000 people, with delegates from almost every country in the world.

However, long queues caused delays for delegates attempting to enter the main COP26 venue in Glasgow with some saying access to the SEC conference centre has taken up to two hours.

Pictures on social media have shown hundreds waiting outside the main gates to the venue. Delegates have to go through airport style security once inside.

Downing Street refused to apologise with officials saying the government was working with the UN and operational staff.

One reporter for LBC, Ben Kentish, reported some security guards are telling those in queues to not take photos of the chaotic scenes.

Paul Waugh queues COP26
Many have complained of large queues to get into the climate summit (Twitter: @paulwaugh)

One UN source, who arrived on Sunday, told the i’s Paul Waugh the situation was an “utter shambles”.

“Total and utter shambles – ambassadors, as well as visitors were held up in the rain for three hours,” they said.

“People asked to go and get tested and come back in time for a 7.00pm close – got back at 5.30 to find that they had closed early.”

Asked if the chaotic scenes were embarrassing for the UK, a No 10 spokesman said: “The security arrangements and accreditation for COP are mandated by the UN and managed in partnership between the UN and Cop26 operational staff.

“You will be aware that there are thousands of delegates arriving on site each day and we are working closely with our partners like the UN FCCC [Framework Convention for Climate Change] to minimise wait times as much as possible during busy times, whilst we ensure we keep safe entry for those who wish to access the site.”

Yahoo News UK has contacted the UN for comment.

Cancelled trains

Hundreds of passengers hoping to travel to Glasgow for the Cop26 climate summit by train have been left waiting inside London's Euston station after a fallen tree halted services.Picture date: Sunday October 31, 2021. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
Hundreds of passengers were left waiting at London Euston on Sunday amid cancelled trains due to severe weather. (Getty Images)

The problems weren't confined to inside the conference.

Train tracks were battered by torrential rain and 80mph winds causing falling trees and cancellations on Sunday.

Some journalists reported journeys of more than 12 hours from London, and others did not reach Glasgow at all after cancelled trains.

(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)

In the case of Jim Pickard from the Financial Times, passengers on trains from Euston were left waiting for two hours at Milton Keynes, before returning to London Euston.

While train disruptions are not as severe today, some trains to Glasgow are still facing cancellations or delays.

Several reporters heading north to cover the conference ended up flying.

Refuge worker strikes

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is shown an overflowing bin by Barry McAreavey as he meets GMB cleansing workers in Glasgow to learn about their dispute with the Scottish Government ahead of Cop26. Picture date: Friday October 29, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is shown an overflowing bin by Barry McAreavey as he meets GMB cleansing workers in Glasgow (Getty Images)

The streets of Glasgow were facing a crisis of their own as refuge collectors go on strike over pay amid reports of a growing number rats on the streets.

Some reports suggest refuse workers have been attacked by the rats, including one sent to hospital for a tetanus shot, and others describing themselves as "petrified" by growing rat population in rubbish in the city.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow’s SNP city council, has been criticised by Scottish Conservatives for her comments in September that the city just needed a “spruce up” ahead of COP26.

"The city is in an absolutely sorry state," said Conservative Glasgow MSP Sandesh Gulhane.

Read more:

What is COP26 and how will it affect the future of climate change?

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"Make no bones about it: We have an absolutely disgusting, filthy city full of rubbish.

"To say that Glasgow 'needs a wee spruce-up' is the most out-of-touch thing that I have ever heard."

An SNP spokesperson said: "Glasgow has no more of a problem than any other UK city.

"To suggest otherwise is politically-motivated and does a disservice to one of the world's great cities."

Rail strikes had also been planned over the second week of COP26, but it was called off after RMT Scotland accepted a 2.5% pay rise, improved conditions, and a £300 COP payment.