COP26: Nicola Sturgeon says 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.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

In response to a question at First Minister’s Questions from Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, the First Minister said that 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. 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."

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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.

“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. So, don't add to that disruption for them.”

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 yesterday that planned strikes during the COP26 summit would be called off after trade union leaders confirmed negotiations on a pay rise have been settled.

He 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, and would she take the opportunity to recognise the disruption that this has caused to people across Scotland – and that the fact that has been resolved at the last minute looks like it's more important for COP26 to be suitably sorted in terms of travel arrangements and not for people across Scotland.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also raised the issue of the effect of COP26 on Glasgow at First Minister’s questions.

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.

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