Advocacy for families to welcome COP26 visitors despite housing shortage

Thousands of people who want to come to Glasgow to take part in the UN climate summit are struggling to find accommodation amid an accommodation shortage and soaring prices.

Nearly 700 Scottish households have already registered to host visiting delegates or activists with a room or bed for COP26.

COP26 Homestay Network is like a non-profit Airbnb encouraging families to offer accommodation for free or at low cost.

Leanne Clelland is delighted to welcome a German translator into her home with her husband and three boys.

Paul Clelland and his three sons will be hosting a guest for the duration of COP26.Leanne Clelland via Supplied
Paul Clelland and his three sons will be hosting a guest for the duration of COP26.

“Living in Glasgow we hear a lot about road closures, chaos,” she told STV News.

“It will be awkward and we could sit on the edge of the COP and get bogged down in logistics and I didn’t want that to happen to us.

“If we have someone who comes and stays and offers them hospitality, we can feel like we’re in the middle of that moment.”

With around 30,000 delegates expected at COP26, there is a severe accommodation shortage with only around 15,000 hotel rooms in Glasgow.

Martin Johnstone from South Glasgow is offering to be a host as part of the COP26 Homestay Network.Claire Millar Photography via the COP26 Coalition
Martin Johnstone from South Glasgow is offering to be a host as part of the COP26 Homestay Network.

There are thousands of people on the COP26 Homestay Network waiting list, set up by a partnership between the COP26 Coalition, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Danish home-sharing organization Human Hotel.

Ms Clelland said her three boys were delighted to be part of the event which is unprecedented in scale in the UK.

“My eldest son loves modern studies,” she said, “He’s really thrilled to have the world at our table.

“It will be so exciting to have a performer working in the blue zone.”

Leanne Clelland welcomes a COP26 delegate to her home.Leanne Clelland via Submitted
Leanne Clelland welcomes a COP26 delegate to her home.

Held on the banks of the Clyde at the Scottish Exhibition Centre, COP26 will take place from 31 October to 12 November and accommodation nearby is in high demand.

The price of digging means those who cannot afford it face an additional hurdle to attend the summit beyond vaccinations and obtaining visas.

Southern countries are the most affected by extreme weather events caused by climate change and the COP26 Coalition wants to make sure their voices are heard.

Ms Clelland, who works for Christian Aid, said: ‘It’s really important that they speak out.

“To bear witness to the chaos caused by extreme weather and help us understand that if we don’t act now, the world will be a much more precarious place for all of us.”

Scottish Greens Minister Patrick Harvie said the countries and people least responsible for the climate crisis are the hardest hit and any deal reached at COP26 must include their voices.

He said: “I am delighted that the COP26 Homestay Network is continuing the tradition of solidarity, connecting local households with participants to provide affordable accommodation, helping to ensure that these critical voices are heard.

“Hosting any COP climate conference is a challenge and Glasgow is no exception. This program gives local hosts a chance to do their part to ensure a successful summit, meeting remarkable people from around the world while supporting the global movement to fight climate change.

You can learn more about how to be a host on the COP26 Homestay Network website here.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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