Little Things to Keep Climate Negotiators Happy at Glasgow Talks

Fletcher Dean Rachel Kyte is quoted in this Bloomberg Quint article about logistical successes and failures of past United Nations Climate Change conferences.

If you thought figuring out the acceptable social rules for post-lockdown gatherings was a challenge, imagine trying to pull off a high-stakes climate summit with more than 100 world leaders. And no pressure, but any mistake could lower the chances of a planet-saving deal.

Even in a good year there’s an endless list of things that could go wrong at the annual United Nations-sponsored talks, known as COP26. Past hosts have come under fire for unhealthy food and insensitive artwork. Anything can set off a grumpy negotiator after an exhausting fortnight of poring over the minutiae of international law. At Copenhagen in 2009, site of COP15, security problems led to lin

At Copenhagen in 2009, site of COP15, security problems led to lines that lasted for hours. China complained that one of its ministers was blocked from entering the conference three times during crucial talks. At the same summit, diplomats from island nations found their countries missing from a giant globe in the conference center. The meeting ended without the global deal countries had been aimi

Nothing compares to the logistical nightmare facing this year’s organizers in Glasgow, Scotland, with delegates needing to navigate virus risks. While the U.K. hosts have promised to vaccinate attendees before the event, those coming from the most at-risk countries will still need to quarantine in a hotel for five to 10 days. All attendees will be tested regularly.

'If they get it wrong, that could lead to massive queues and a great deal of disruption,’ says Richard Black, a research fellow at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London who has attended 10 COPs. There’s also the risk that a negotiator becomes  infected and is forced into isolation, he says. If this happens at a crucial point, it could seriously undermine the outcome of the talks.

Even the basics — the food — can shape the course of a climate conference. COP veterans still rave about the food at the Paris meeting in 2015, when they agreed to a landmark accord to keep global temperature rise well below 2C and strive for a 1.5C limit.

Delegates have a stipend each day, meaning some will want to save cash. Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, remembers local women at the 2018 talks in Katowice, Poland, who sold dumplings called pierogis along the road leading to the venue to participants looking for a cheap bite. 'Vegetarian food trucks of Glasgow, get your game on,' she says."

Read the full article here