COP26: Expert warns Glasgow’s climate change conference could be cancelled due to coronavirus

The country’s leading microbiologist has warned that Glasgow’s United Nations COP26 climate change conference could be cancelled because of the Coronavirus crisis.

It would deal a devastating blow to Scotland’s hospitality industry, which is gearing up for one of the biggest events ever held in the city.

Up to 90,000 delegates and 200 world leaders are due to travel to Glasgow for 10 days of talks on how to save the planet later this year.

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However, major events are now being cancelled worldwide in a bid to cut down on human-to-human contact.

Mark Carney, COP26 Finance Adviser to the Prime Minister, makes a keynote address to launch the private finance agenda for the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Picture: PA

The Geneva Motor Show is the latest gathering to be axed, following the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Facebook’s F8 in San Jose, California.

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor at Aberdeen University said it would be “daft” to proceed with the high-profile summit if the Covid-19 virus is still active in the summer.

• READ MORE: COP26: UK Government found alternative London venue for Glasgow summitHe said: "The first thing I should say is that no-one can predict the future.

“What this virus has shown is that it is subtle and clever and manages to get under the radar.

“It all depends on how they cope with it in Italy, Korea and Iran. The virus is having a happy time in these countries, while China appears to have got a grip of it.

“But, as far as the Glasgow summit is concerned, it would be daft to go ahead with it if the virus is still active, say, in August.

“The organisers should give thought to having a much smaller meeting, or having it online so that no-one needs to travel.”

We asked the UK organisers The Cabinet Office if the Government was considering cancelling COP26, due to be held between November 9 and 20.

A spokesperson for COP26 said: "The summit is still many months away but we’re monitoring the situation closely.”

In January, it was revealed how Glasgow hotels were inflating prices for the period of the conference.

Booking.com was offering a four-bedroom duplex apartment in the city centre for a staggering £34,986 for a 14-night period around the conference.

The rate being charged for the Blythswood Square Apartments works out at just under £2500 per night.

Similarly, a search through booking.com for the Dakota Glasgow threw up a two-week cost of £8401 for a Classic Double Room with double bed. That works out at a nightly rate of £600.

A former Glasgow Lord Provost, while not calling on COP26 to be cancelled, said organisers should “err on the side of caution” over the event.

Alex Mosson. Glasgow’s First Citizen between 1999 and 2003, said: "I was convener of environmental health before I became Lord Provost.

“The over-riding ambition of that committee was to ensure the well-being not only of Glasgow citizens but to people who come to visit here as well.

“There is no guarantee this virus will be fading out by summer. The organisers should ask themselves ‘Is the risk worth it’. Because it is a risk.

“I know there will be an economic hit to the city if COP26 does not go ahead but I believe human health is more important. I would urge the organisers to err on the side of caution.”

The UK Government has already admitted having ‘contingency plans’ in place should COP26 not go ahead in Glasgow. Talks have been opened with ExCel London to see if it could accommodate a switch of venue.