Cop26 will be the whitest and most privileged ever, warns campaigners | policeman 26

The global climate summit in Glasgow will be the whitest and most privileged ever, according to campaigners, who warn that thousands of people from front-line communities in the global south have been excluded.

World leaders and delegates are expected to be joined by celebrities, CEOs and royalty at the critical two-week event.

But the Cop26 coalition – which represents indigenous movements, vulnerable communities, trade unionists and young people striking around the world – says up to two-thirds of those who helped travel to Glasgow have given up, overwhelmed by a combination of visas and accreditation issues, lack of access to Covid vaccines and changed travel rules – as well as “scarce and expensive” accommodation options.

Rachael Osgood, director of immigration at the Cop26 Coalition, said: “This event, due to several combining factors, most of which fall under the responsibility of the government, is set to become the most elite and exclusive police officer ever held. “

She said that although it was difficult to put a precise figure on the number of observers, campaigners and civil society groups from the global south who had been prevented from coming, the impact on the negotiations would be significant.

“What we know for sure is that thousands of people from the global south are being excluded, and they represent tens of thousands of millions of votes from them right on the front lines of this crisis, which will not be heard … We see in the global northern countries that make decisions with minimal responsibility to the least responsible and most affected, and that goes against everything that Cop should stand for. “

Campaigners say activists and observers have been prevented from coming by:

  • an underlying “hostile attitude” from the UK Home Office to those traveling from countries in the global south, particularly Africa, which has led to many visas being rejected;

  • non-compliance with a promise to offer Covid vaccines to all delegates, leaving many to search for vaccines in countries with little or no access;

  • constantly changing Covid restrictions for those traveling into the UK, with travel bans from countries on the UK Red List, which until this month included many of the countries hardest hit by the climate crisis. This has left many looking for expensive and complicated routes to Glasgow via third countries;

  • a housing crisis in the city that has made it difficult and expensive to find a safe place to live. Campaigns have set up a “homestay network” to try to connect people with extra rooms, but say they have thousands on their waiting list

Asad Rehman, of the Cop26 coalition, said: “Cop26 will be overwhelmingly white and rich this year. The UN climate negotiations are always exclusive, but this year the logistics at this summit have been managed exceptionally poorly. At all levels, those most affected are this crisis, has been systemically silenced and ruled out.

“It has become increasingly clear that the UK Government has given priority to the policeman being a global platform to advance the interests of his and other rich countries, while delivering an inclusive and legitimate policeman is a distant thought.”

Lidy Nacpil, of the Philippines People’s Movement on Debt and Development, which is based in the Philippines, said these obstacles had made it impossible for her team to participate. “The challenges and complications associated with vaccines, visas and quarantine requirements that the UK has not adequately addressed are the main reasons why we do not want to be on Cop26,” she said.

She said that although policing processes had always been “dominated by the interests of rich countries and companies”, the lack of representation from the global south would exacerbate these trends.

“Given far less southern participation, especially by movements, Cop26 will not bring us closer to climate justice,” she said.

Dorothy Guerrero, of the Global Justice Now campaign group, also warned that the absence of people from the global South would have serious consequences. “This will only benefit rich nations that will take a stand on key issues and benefit their transnational corporations with limited protests from developing countries and NGO observers.”

A Cop26 spokesman said the British government was “working tirelessly” with the Scottish Government and the United Nations to “ensure an inclusive, accessible and secure summit … with a comprehensive set of mitigation measures for Covid”.

They added that they had secured about a third of the hotel rooms in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, making them available at a reasonable price, and offered to fund the necessary quarantine hotel stays for registered delegates arriving from red list countries and for vaccinating accredited delegates.

But campaigners say the situation on the ground for those wishing to travel from the global south is serious. Osgood said that in some of the countries facing the worst consequences of climate collapse, almost no one – including official delegates and observers – had been able to secure itineraries or visas.

“Haiti is a good example,” Osgood said. “To get a visa, you must have your fingerprints and face scanned, but there is no option for this in the country, so anyone who wants to leave must travel to the Dominican Republic to complete their application. But it is expensive and limited, so no observers or civil society groups will reach Cop, which is a parody. ”

Osgood, who runs the coalition’s visa and legal advisory service, said she had raised this and many other issues with the UK Home Office, but it took them three months to identify a police liaison officer to discuss cases with.

The Interior Ministry said it had worked with delegates from around the world on their visa applications “to ensure Cop26 is inclusive and accessible”.

A spokesman said: “We aim to process all visa applications within 15 working days – but those that are more complicated or when individuals do not provide the necessary information may take longer.”

But Osgood said: “For many people, the road to this policeman is broken and strewn with structural obstacles, it is an unequal and unjust system and it will have a huge impact on the justice results of the climate.”

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