COP26: Nicola Sturgeon: Disruption in Glasgow ‘will be regrettable’

The disruption to Glasgow due to COP26 will be “regrettable in many ways”, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, but insisted that most residents of the city “understand the importance” of the event.

In response to a question at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday from Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, the First Minister said Police Scotland would respond to climate protests in the city which “disrupt people beyond what would be considered reasonable” and urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully and minimise disruption.

She said: “To the people of Glasgow – and I am a resident of the city of Glasgow and a representative of part of the city of Glasgow – there will be disruption and inconvenience over the next two weeks.

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"I know that it will be regrettable in many ways, but I think the majority of people in Glasgow understand the importance of the COP26 summit for the future of the planet."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She added: “Obviously it's for Police Scotland to decide the appropriate approach to the policing of demonstrations.

"The Chief Constable, who I'll be having further discussions with over the course of today and tomorrow around this, has been very clear that there will be a sensitive policing operation that will do everything possible to facilitate appropriate and peaceful protests. But Police Scotland will respond to any protests that seek to break the law and disrupt people beyond what would be considered reasonable.

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“People do want to come and make their voices heard.

"I think that is understandable given the importance of the issues under discussion, but I would say to people looking to come to protest in Glasgow, do it peacefully. And do it with a recognition that the people who are hosting this conference are suffering some disruption because of that.”

Mr Ross highlighted the “disappointment and irritation" of commuters who have faced train cancellations since March due to strikes over rail workers’ pay. It was announced on Wednesday that planned strikes during COP26 would be called off after trade union leaders confirmed negotiations on a pay rise had been settled.

Mr Ross said: “[I want] for the First Minister to have some humility and accept that the problems of these strikes have affected people up and down Scotland for months.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also claimed the SNP, which runs Glasgow City Council, had “let down” the city.

Speaking after the session, he said: "Next week the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow as leaders gather for our last great chance to avert the climate emergency. It is in all of our interests, and those of future generations, that COP26 succeeds. But while Nicola Sturgeon lectures the world about the global environment, she is turning a blind eye to the environment Glaswegians are living in every day.

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"There are tonnes of waste piling up on our streets. Fly-tipping is on the rise and [there are] over a million rats. Glasgow deserves better."

Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t shy away from the problems and the challenges that cities like Glasgow – Glasgow is not unique here – face in the times that we live through right now.

“But nor will I stand here and allow Glasgow, one of the greatest cities in the world, to be talked down for political purposes.”

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