As I read articles during the run up to COP26, I felt slightly aggrieved that I was missing the most exciting thing to happen in Glasgow since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It seemed like quite bad luck that I was moving away from home mere months before COP26. As anyone who has been to Glasgow at least once knows, the city is filled with “People Make Glasgow” posters and billboards, so I had been looking forward to seeing how Glasgow reacted to hosting COP26. The eyes of the world are on my home as COP26 takes place from 31st October to 12th November (although CNN seemed determined to feature Edinburgh Castle, despite it being in the wrong city). As someone who has lived in Glasgow for over a decade, I would have liked to have written that everyone in Glasgow had been eagerly anticipating COP26. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
While in some respects COP26 has allowed ‘improvements’ to take place in Glasgow, such as the instalment of 4G in the subway, life in Glasgow is definitely being negatively impacted as well. There was anger when in order for heads of state and the Royal Family to have a fancy reception, Kelvingrove Museum was completely closed off and women forced to walk alone in complete darkness through Kelvingrove Park just to get home. Children are being required to take excessively long routes to school to avoid road closures, and residents of Finnieston were even denied entry into their own homes. While the increased police presence is understandable, it is certainly unnerving as well.
There are also concerns about the potential of Covid-19 spreading through Glasgow due to the large numbers of people attending. There was no requirement for delegates to be fully vaccinated in order to attend COP26, and despite regular testing it seems inevitable that there will be a spread of COVID-19. It is worrying that as we go into what will likely be a challenging winter that there could be a potential super-spreader event happening on our doorstep, which may eventually lead to restrictions. With Glasgow in particular having had a very long stretch of stricter rules earlier in the year, it is heart-breaking to even think of the possibility of going backwards and having to go into a kind of lockdown again
To me, there is the impression that Glasgow has been taken over, with little concern towards the people who live there and the businesses who operate in the city. With little access available to the public (my parents for one attempted multiple times to get tickets for events and failed to do so), it seems unfortunate that the people of Glasgow essentially have to live with all the inconveniences of a global conference without directly benefiting from it.
I do not want to give the impression that I, or anyone else from Glasgow, are necessarily against COP26. I fully recognise the extreme importance of putting actions into words regarding climate change, and the devastating impacts it is already having on the world. It would just also be nice for someone to acknowledge that Glasgow is effectively being thrown into chaos for COP26, with little short-term reward. But oh well, at least we have the pleasure of spotting Joe Biden outside of Greggs or Greta Thunberg in Govan.
Image via Picryl