COP organiser begs attendees to go remote as capacity problems hit event
Despite hopes that crowds would lessen, the wait to enter the venue remained as long on Wednesday as on Tuesday
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the COP26 organiser, is warning that the event's attendance is “very high” and that it may have to limit “entrance to certain categories of participants who must be physically present at the venue”.
Concerns that there are more accredited attendees than available spaces at the venue have caused ire at the organisers.
COP26 president Alok Sharma asked for understanding given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. “We regret logistical issues that are stopping people from coming in,” he said. “There was particular pressure on the first two days as the leaders arrive. We hope it should settle now and be quicker and easier to get in.” Nevertheless, the wait to enter the venue remained as long on Wednesday as on Tuesday.
UNFCCC secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “Operating in the Covid context has completely changed how we can organise the premises. Normally, we can put in double the number of seats and allow standing room, but with social distancing, that’s simply not possible. To facilitate social distancing, we’ve had to reduce the number of security control lanes as well.”
She added that they have been surprised by the enthusiasm of attendees for attending the conference. “We’re pleased to see people are committed and engaged and interested and want to come here,” she said. “But it poses significant challenges in terms of logistics.”
Sharma also acknowledged that the capacity problems can cause transparency issues because of the limited number of delegates allowed per room. “We’re not complacent about this,” he said. “We have discussions every day on how to address these issues.”