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COP26 starts in Glasgow on Sunday, October 31, 2021, and is expected to last until November 12, possibly a few days longer if climate talks run over schedule.

COP stands for ‘conference of the parties’ and is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is comprised of 197 countries.

It was decided in 2019 that the 26th COP meeting would be hosted by the UK. Glasgow is known for its international conferences and its overall commitment to sustainability.

The conference will take place at the Scottish Event Campus on the outskirts of the city. It can accommodate 14,300 people in its arena and 3,000 in its auditorium.

The Times has more on the conference.

Although some delegates will be staying in Glasgow centre, it’s just as well that COP26 is being held on the outskirts of the city, because the binmen are on strike and rats are a common sight.

This is what Glasgow’s sustainability looks like:

Rail strikes are also expected, which will be a problem for delegates or their assistants who are staying in Edinburgh, a 45- to 60-minute train journey away.

Guido Fawkes has a post about everything that could go wrong during the next fortnight, excerpted below (emphases in the original):

This morning, rail and council workers confirmed they’ll be taking strike action during the summit, with ScotRail striking from the second day of the conference. Unless ScotRail’s pay rise demands are met by tomorrow, the travel infrastructure for thousands of COP attendees will be in total chaos. Binmen are also off, so the city streets will be piled high with weeks’ worth of rubbish just as delegates arrive.

If and when the rail strikes go ahead, travelling by car won’t be much use either: major roads into Glasgow, including the Clydeside Expressway and parts of the M8, will be closed from this week onwards, so those who’ve booked accommodation in Edinburgh will face “serious problems” with enormous Uber fares and journey times. Speaking of accommodation…

Today MPs have been warned of an “accommodation crisis” amongst attendees, with as many as 3000 people still without room bookings, and emergency accommodation now being provided in gyms and community centres. Despite being in the calendar for years, the government’s accommodation provider only managed to book out “around a third” of the Glasgow area’s hotel rooms.

Glasgow council is led by the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The council leader, Susan Aitken, blamed the city’s filth on, of all people, Margaret Thatcher, who left office in 1990 and died in 2013.

The Daily Mail tells us more, illustrated with several photographs (emphases mine):

World leaders from 120 countries will soon descend on Glasgow – but Scotland’s second city is blighted by rubbish and fly-tipping as well as some of the UK’s highest poverty, drug death and crime rates.

In an evidence session with the Scottish Affairs Committee, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross asked Ms Aitken: ‘You have been widely ridiculed across the UK for saying that Glasgow only needs a ”spruce up” and is not actually filthy. Do you regret any of your previous comments?’

Ms Aitken stood by her remarks before insisting that Mrs Thatcher, the former prime minister who left office more than 30 years ago and died in 2013, was responsible for the ‘challenges’ facing Scotland’s second city.

She then sought to downplay fears over the city’s ‘filthy’ state, claiming ‘all cities have rats’ but admitting to ‘possibly two’ occasions in which council workers had been hospitalised after ‘small incidents’ with rats.

‘I do not, in any way, shy away from the challenges that we face as a city, historic challenges that have been around for many, many years,’ Ms Aitken claimed.

‘Much of them a legacy of our post-industrial past when the Thatcher government walked away and abandoned Glasgow and left in neglect communities right across this city.’

The head of the SNP-led administration in Glasgow said she was not embarrassed by the city’s deteriorating condition and insisted it was ‘entirely gratuitous’ to suggest it was infested with rats

She said Glasgow was ready to host the conference ‘with caveats’, adding: ‘I would say the caveats are mainly technical, some of them have already been resolved or are being ticked off.’

‘None of them were massive, none of them were enough to cause panic.’ 

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, a Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow, said Ms Aitken’s comments about the legacy of Thatcherism were ‘completely delusional’

‘We’ve heard a lot of far-fetched excuses from Susan Aitken over the past few months, but the idea that Margaret Thatcher is to blame for the current state of Glasgow’s streets absolutely takes the biscuit,’ he said.

‘She must now stop the excuses and urgently produce some solutions – not only for Cop26 in a week’s time, but for the people of Glasgow who live here all year round.’

Also:

the buildings owned by Glasgow’s council are decaying, with raw sewage coursing through cellars and rats hospitalising dustmen.

To cap it all, Glasgow is currently the eighth-highest Covid hotspot in Europe, has been found to be the deadliest place to work in the UK, and the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest in the city has recently been found to have increased by three years

How sad.

This is the product of socialism, started by Scottish Labour, which led the council for many years, and now the SNP:

Incidentally, Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is also SNP-run and has the same problems as the nation’s second city. Council elections will be held in May 2022. A Scottish Conservative MSP sounded off during the summer:

The Spectator has more on Glasgow:

Pavements strewn with household waste are a common sight. Residents routinely post images on social media of the city centre and its outer-lying suburbs covered in detritus. Glasgow’s bin men are appalled and characterise the situation as a health and safety breach: they cite the risk of Weil’s disease, which can be transmitted to humans through rodent urine. So far this year four Glasgow bin men have been attacked by rats.

Collection rates, uplift charges and fly-tipping are all blamed for the waste scandal. In April, the SNP council completed the switch from bin collections every fortnight to every three weeks. Three months later, a £35 bulk uplift charge was introduced for large electricals or groups of up to ten other items. It is hardly surprising that fly-tipping has become more commonplace.

Glaswegians have given up waiting for the council to fix the problem and instead are getting stuck in themselves. Clean-up efforts have popped up throughout the city. There is a determination that Glasgow must not be seen looking ‘mockit’ on the international stage.

Susan Aitken became the leader of Glasgow’s council in 2017:

Residents are angry too. The focus is mostly on Susan Aitken, who after decades of one-party rule swept Labour out of power to become Glasgow council’s first Nationalist leader in 2017. In a car-crash TV interview last month, she said that the city just needed a ‘spruce up’, which was seized on by opponents as a staggering understatement and proof she is out of touch. When Sir Keir Starmer visited Glasgow in August he took part in a GMB union protest and called the cleansing crisis ‘a failure of leadership from the SNP council’. Aitken accused him of ‘a scapegoating and a targeting of Glasgow’ and even suggested the GMB was echoing the language of ‘far-right organisations’ that had blamed immigrants for previous waste problems in one part of the city.

Thomas Kerr, the Tory group leader on the council and a rising Conservative star in Scotland, represents the East End ward of Shettleston, which is among those worst affected. ‘We’ve become the fly-tipping capital of Britain and host the UK’s fourth-highest population of rats. That’s the legacy of Glasgow’s first Nationalist council,’ he says.

On the other hand, the city has revived some districts for the better:

The new Glasgow is a hub of riverside redevelopment and fashionable coffee shops. The South Side is the new West End, and Partick fell to the hipsters some time ago. The homicide rate is barely one third of what it was in 2005, and the city’s Violence Reduction Unit — which has been so successful at driving down knife crime that it is being replicated in London by Sadiq Khan — reports that last year Scotland saw ‘one of the lowest number of recorded homicide cases for a single 12-month period since 1976’. Pockets of deep poverty and drug misuse remain, as do grimly Scottish health indicators, but none of this undercuts Glasgow’s reputation as the Comeback Kid of British cities.

True, but it is still one of Europe’s most dangerous cities:

Looking at COP26 itself, the leaders of China, Russia and India will not be attending. The Queen, still under medical supervision, will be sending a message via video.

However, the biggest challenge will involve a plan of action for the conference.

This issue arose several weeks ago in August:

Tom Newton Dunn’s article for the Evening Standard says:

Where people say Paris and Kyoto, now they will also say Glasgow, the PM decreed. But it isn’t working out like that. COP26 opens on October 31 and is already in deep trouble. That in turn spells trouble for Johnson. There are four reasons. First, there is still no international consensus on what should be agreed in Glasgow. That agreement was supposed to be the last act of three. If Kyoto in 1997 was about agreeing there is a problem, and Paris in 2015 was about setting a target to tackle it (limiting the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5C), Glasgow was to be about working out how to do that. The tricky bit, in other words.

Yet from deciding the date on which to close all coal-fired power stations to determining when petrol and diesel vehicles must be replaced, every attempt this year to pin something down has failed. The G7 summit in June, also hosted by Johnson, did not change matters. World leaders’ eyes are elsewhere as they battle their own Covid pandemics and spiralling deficits.

Fortunately for Boris Johnson, the British public are not that interested in climate change right now. For most of us, it matters only that we hosted the conference, our second major one since leaving the EU (the first one being the G7).

More to follow on what the British think about COP26.

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UPDATE — on the evening of October 27, a deal has been done to avert a rail strike:

Thank goodness.

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