COP26: Patrick Harvie says climate talks have problem with being 'elitist' and 'exclusive'

The Scottish Greens Co-leader has commented that COP26 has a ‘problem’ with exclusivity and elitism as well as offering a ‘greenwashing’ platform for large companies which contribute significantly to pollution.

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said COP26 has a problem with being elitist and exclusionary.
Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said COP26 has a problem with being elitist and exclusionary.

Many climate change activists both attending the climate talks and unable to have named COP26 as an ‘exclusionary event’ which ‘greenwashes’ corporate companies attending.

Asked if he agreed with activists naming COP as an elitist and exclusive event as he attended the conference, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie told The Scotsman: “It very often has that problem.

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"There are many people trying to solve and overcome that problem and make it more accessible. I’m really grateful for example to the members of the public who stepped up and joined the Homestay Network to make sure the exorbitant costs of accommodation are not facing everyone who wants to come here and who wants to be part of COP whether inside the building or in wider society. “

Young activists such as Kate Chambers, from 2050 Climate Group – a youth-led climate charity based in Glasgow – have commented that the event is exclusionary to young people.

Ms Chambers told the Scotsman: “It’s really exciting to be here, but it's quite an exclusionary event.

"It’s really sad to hear of other young activists that we know who are trying to get into this space who have accreditation, but they’re either stuck in their country with issues about their visa, issues with Covid, the cost of getting accommodation in Glasgow which are absolutely astronomical.”

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Mr Harvie also cited the problem with exclusivity leaving some of the indigenous delegates attending COP26 without accommodation in Glasgow.

He said: “That’s been a huge problem and we’ve been trying to solve that with the city council and with others and we hope we’ve got a solution on that."

Asked if COP26 was a Greenwashing event, Mr Harvie said: “There has always been an element of people using these events for Greenwashing but there is also a very strong core of it which is about trying to find the solutions.

"We need to be very conscious about the dangers of the kind of businesses that mad their money from creating this problem in the first place now saying we’ll step up and solve them for you.

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"There is cynicism and a lot of the cynicism is justified but there is also the possibility of hope and we absolutely need to avoid giving into defeatism because there are some corporate players here as well as the people who know what they are saying about climate policies."

Mr Harvie commented that covid had exacerbated issues of exclusivity, however, added: “But that can never be a reason not to have these events bringing together people who have the solutions and being conscious of the dangers of giving too much air time to the people who caused the problems in the first place.”

The Green co-leaders comments come after climate change activists from all over the world dressed in green, joining the Extinction Rebellion march through Glasgow on Wednesday to confront the threat of greenwashing – a form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organisation's products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly.

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