'Don't think everything is rosy': Days before world leaders arrive, is Glasgow ready for COP26?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has waded in to say she refuses to let Glasgow be 'talked down' ahead of the summit, as ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith reports

The world’s VIPs are jetting into Glasgow for a conference all about cleaning up the environment.

But if the Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Royal guests coming in ever dare to peer out beyond their high-security ‘Blue Zone,’ they will see another side to the city hosting them.

Bin collectors here are threatening strike action during COP in protest against increasingly dirty - and dangerous - working conditions.

There have been cuts to the collections meaning rubbish only gets picked up once every three weeks now. And while it lies on the streets and back courts, the rats are moving in.

Bin collectors are threatening strike action.

Chris Mitchell, the GMB Union’s Glasgow Cleansing Convenor, says two of his members have been hospitalised after being bitten or scratched by the rodents.

“What I would say to Joe Biden and co is when they come here, don’t think because you’re going down to the SEC [conference centre] that everything is rosy round about you,” he tells me.

“Ask somebody a question: is the whole of Glasgow ready for COP26? No, Glasgow has been completely let down.”

Greta Thunberg has sent her support to the striking workers of Glasgow, inviting them to march with her.

And Scotland’s First Minister was challenged on it today.

“Don’t talk Glasgow down,” said Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood today.

But it’s not just the bins - Glasgow also has an accommodation problem.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

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A cruise liner’s been brought in to cope with the arrival of 30,000 delegates.

The huge demand and lack of supply is providing a cash boost for some - hoteliers and landlords have been able to put up prices.

But hosting COP also comes at a cost.

Hundreds of hospital appointments have been cancelled during the conference, the city’s museums are closed to the public - key roads shut off.

Glasgow is trying hard to keep up appearances on the world stage.

But on the other side of the ring of steel, the people who live and work in the city are wondering if they really are hosting COP, or merely being occupied by it.