COP26: How will COP26 impact Edinburgh? Road closures, protests, and who's coming to Edinburgh

Here’s what to expect in Edinburgh during COP26, including road closures and travel disruptions.

COP26 is fast approaching and, while the climate conference is held in Glasgow, there may be some knock-on effects that affect Edinburgh as well.

The event is expected to attract over 30,000 delegates, including more than 100 world leaders.

With eyes around the world on Glasgow for the all-important summit, those in Edinburgh are keen to know what sort of disruptions they can expect.

COP26 is expected to pull in over 30,000 delegates to Glasgow, having knock-on effects across the central belt of Scotland. Photo: JPI Media.

Here’s how COP26 may affect Edinburgh, so you can stay prepared ahead of its kick off on October 31st.

Who is staying in Edinburgh for COP26?

Several world leaders are staying in Edinburgh rather than Glasgow for COP26.

This includes the Queen and several other members of the Royal Family, as well as US President Joe Biden.

Edinburgh can expect to see protestors on the street throughout the two weeks of COP26. Photo: Lisa Ferguson.

These famous faces coming to Edinburgh will undoubtedly require extra security, meaning potential road closures and delays in getting around the city.

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Which COP26 road closures may affect Edinburgh?

Edinburgh City Council has reportedly been planning for disruptions related to COP26 for the last year and a half.

Advice from the council is to try to use public transport as much as possible during COP26 and avoid driving where feasible.

While there are no planned road closures in Edinburgh itself, traffic is expected to be busy across the entire central belt of Scotland, including the Edinburgh City Bypass.

How will travel be affected by COP26?

On top of road closure disruptions and expected heavy traffic, ScotRail staff are planning a strike throughout COP26 that will heavily impact travel to Glasgow if it goes ahead.

Most of Scotland’s trains will be halted if the strike goes ahead.

If you’re planning to travel to Glasgow or around Scotland by train between November 1st and November 12th, expect major disruptions to ScotRail trains and potential overcrowding on other services.

Which COP26 protests may affect Edinburgh?

Extinction Rebellion and other climate activism groups are known to be planning various protests throughout COP26.

Many think that the world leaders in attendance have not done enough and that this conference will be full of empty promises.

A global protest is planned for November 6th, where Extinction Rebellion are calling on people around the world to take to the streets in solidarity.

This call will likely be taken up by protestors in Edinburgh.

Protests in Edinburgh will likely not be limited to November 6th, however.

Will COP26 result in more Covid restrictions?

Recent rises in Covid numbers have left many in the UK fearing renewed stricter Covid restrictions as we move into winter.

There has been talk from both politicians and health experts around falling back on to the UK government’s Plan B, which would reintroduce compulsory masks and mandatory vaccine passports for large indoor events.

Both of these measures are already in place in Scotland, but there are still fears of stricter restrictions coming to Scotland as well.

According to public health expert Professor Devi Sridhar, COP26 could play a key role in sparking renewed restrictions in Scotland.

“Expect Plan B in the next week or two,” she wrote on Twitter. “And not underplaying at all the significance of climate change, but I’m concerned about impact of #COP26 in Glasgow on COVID control as we head into winter. Probably worst timing ever in a pandemic.


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