COP26 traffic chaos should help cut Scotland's carbon emissions as world leaders fail to follow Queen's lead – Vladimir McTavish

As world leaders gather for COP26 at the SEC next week to hammer out an agreement on how to combat climate change, it is good to see that Scotland could temporarily achieve net-zero over the next fortnight.

Traffic could be heavy on the M8 during the COP26 climate summit (Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Traffic could be heavy on the M8 during the COP26 climate summit (Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

This is because it will be nigh on impossible to drive a car in Glasgow city centre, and there will be severe restrictions to motorway travel throughout the Central Belt. The M8 could be closed down for security reasons during the conference, so hopefully people will not get into their cars to drive to the West.

Thankfully, the threatened train strike was averted at the last minute. Expect the ScotRail shuttle to be full-to-bursting.

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At least the Queen is staying at home. Having originally planned to stay in Edinburgh and commute to the conference, Her Majesty has now decided not to visit Scotland, and will instead contribute an online presentation to COP26.

Officially, this is due to “health reasons”. Highly plausible, given her advanced years. However, it is equally likely that she didn’t fancy getting stuck in a two-hour traffic jam, needing to go to the toilet at the Baillieston turn-off. And who could blame her, were that to be the case.

On the other hand, Joe Biden appears intent on pressing ahead with his plans to stay in the Capital for the duration, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Not from a point of view of convenience, nor from the perspective of their carbon footprint.

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It’s ridiculous enough in the age of Zoom and Microsoft Teams that world leaders should be flying halfway around the world to talk about what we can do to stop burning fossil fuels. After all, if a 96-year-old great-grandmother can be tech-savvy enough to attend remotely, surely all the other delegates can do likewise.

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But then to factor in a needless 90-mile round trip is sheer lunacy. Congestion on the M8 can be pretty bad at the best of times. It only needs either Rangers or Celtic to have a midweek home game for the whole system to grind to a halt. That will pale into insignificance when compared to the numerous motorcades and outriders who will accompany the visiting dignitaries.

It’s not as if there are not enough hotels in Glasgow. In fact, I can think of half-a-dozen within walking distance of the conference site itself. The Crown Plaza and Radisson Red are right next door.

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And if they’re looking to do the conference on a budget, there is the Campanile in the car park of the Rotunda, where you can usually get a single room for under £50 a night.

Admittedly, that is probably more than it’s worth, because it is a bit ropey. The room I stayed in had a rather unpleasant stain on the armchair. But when you consider the effects of cleaning fluids on the ozone layer, a filthy hotel room is a small price to pay for ensuring the future of the planet. Which is what COP26 is all about after all.

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