African delegations struggling to get to Glasgow

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When she discovered the price of accommodation in Glasgow (Scotland) in September, Aïssatou Diouf did not believe it at first. Up to 700 euros per room, more than 10,000 euros for fifteen nights… Figures which seemed insane, but which have nevertheless continued to soar: it is now necessary to count on average 1,000 euros per day to find accommodation in the city where will be held, from October 31 to November 12, the 26e United Nations climate conference (COP26). At this price, the event “Risk of being accessible only to delegates and associations from rich countries”, warns the Senegalese coordinator of the West African Climate Action Network, which brings together some fifty environmental organizations.

Between the inflation of housing costs, travel costs, visas and the difficulty of access to vaccines, COP26 is already shaping up to be one of the most expensive in history and the most logistically complicated for representatives of developing countries. “To date, at least half of the African delegates are not sure of being able to go to Scotland”, underlines the Gabonese Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale, who chairs the group of negotiators of the continent. Many delegations, used to moving in numbers, such as those from Côte d’Ivoire or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are going to reduce their numbers. And the cut should be even drier for observers from civil society, who do not benefit from the same conditions as institutions.

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Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, one of the young Ugandan climate activists, has given up on going to Glasgow: she has not yet managed to get vaccinated, the visa procedure “Constantly varies”, the costs are “Foolish”. “Only young people who will manage to be helped by large organizations will be able to make the trip”, regrets this member of the Fridays for Future movement.

However, the meeting, which should bring together around 25,000 participants from 196 states, is presented as the most important since the Paris agreement in 2015. It should show, as natural disasters multiply, that a tipping point can be crossed in the fight against climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

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