COP21 in Glasgow: summit in corona times – how does it work?


As of: 10/29/2021 4:56 p.m.

25,000 participants from all over the world are expected at the world climate conference. But is a mass event even justifiable in times of a pandemic? What could this entail, and how are efforts being made on site to protect the participants?

By Imke Köhler, ARD-Studio London, currently. Glasgow

No one has been able to say for a long time what exactly autumn 2021 would look like. The only thing that was clear was that the pandemic would not be over yet. Holding a mass event in Great Britain now, with participants from all over the world, believes Prof. Christina Pagel to be risky. The German-British professor from University College London works as a mathematician in health research.

Imke Koehler
ARD-Studio London

Another spreading event?

The starting position is difficult, says Pagel. Great Britain has the highest Covid numbers in Western Europe, with the highest worldwide. And you know that the European football championship was a super spreading event. The G7 summit in Cornwall was also a super spreading event. In this respect, there is clearly a risk.

How many of the conference attendees will be vaccinated in Glasgow is unclear. When registering, the British government asked whether you have already been vaccinated or are planning to get vaccinated. But she does not share what picture has emerged from this over the past few weeks. There is also now the accusation that the British government has not kept its aid promise to disadvantaged countries.

Suddenly no more risk areas

Britain had promised to provide vaccines for delegates who would otherwise be unable to get vaccinated in their home countries. According to a climate activist from Mozambique, vaccine has not arrived in all countries. For its part, the UK government speaks of having helped participants from 70 countries.

Great Britain has tightened the entry rules for the conference. So everyone who wants to come to the island must be tested for Covid-19 beforehand and do at least one further test within 48 hours. Anyone who comes from a country that is on the red list must first be quarantined. However, the British government announced on Thursday evening that from Monday no countries will be classified as “red”.

Exceptions in an exceptional situation

There were already exceptions to the quarantine. After several Latin American countries criticized the quarantine requirement as discriminatory, the requirement for high-ranking government officials and other employees was suspended. Is that a hazard? Professor Pagel from University College London believes that when it comes to Corona, international visitors are more at risk than the British.

Delta is the dominant variant wherever it appears, she says. Countries where it does not yet occur are very at risk because Delta is so infectious. In addition, there is now a subtype of Delta in Great Britain called AY.4.2.

According to Pagel, this seems to be ten to 15 percent more infectious than Delta – and it is widespread in Scotland. “There is therefore a risk that the delegates who come to the World Climate Conference will become infected and take the infection back to their home countries. In countries that do not have a high vaccination rate, this will worsen the situation,” warns Pagel.

And beyond the conference site?

So that as few as possible become infected, all participants in Glasgow have to test themselves daily. Only those who can show a negative test result come to the conference site. In addition, the one-meter distance rule applies, and masks must be worn outside of meetings and negotiations. The negotiation rooms should be ventilated and disinfected regularly. The organizers, on the other hand, have no control over what happens beyond the conference site in the city’s hotels, restaurants and clubs.

COP26: Major event in times of Corona

Imke Köhler, ARD London, October 28, 2021 9:13 pm


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