Plea for families to host COP26 visitors amid accommodation shortage

Thousands are on a waiting list for somewhere to stay during the UN climate summit.

Plea for families to host COP26 visitors amid accommodation shortage Ruedi Nager via Handout
Kat Jones, who has lived in Glasgow for 25 years and has signed up to host a guest, alongside her daughter Naomi Nager.

Thousands of people who want to come to Glasgow to take part in the UN climate summit are struggling to find somewhere to stay amid an accommodation shortage and soaring prices.

Almost Scottish 700 households have already signed up to welcome visiting delegates or campaigners giving them a room or bed for COP26.

COP26 Homestay Network is like a not-for-profit Airbnb encouraging families to offer a place to stay for free or for a low price.

Leanne Clelland is looking forward to hosting a German translator in her home with her husband and three boys.

Paul Clelland and his three sons will welcome a guest for the duration of COP26.Leanne Clelland via Supplied
Paul Clelland and his three sons will welcome a guest for the duration of COP26.
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“Living in Glasgow we hear a lot of about the road closures, the chaos,” she told STV News.

“It will be inconvenient and we could sit on the edge of COP and get bogged down in the logistics of it and I didn’t want that to happen to us.

“If we have somebody coming and staying and offering them hospitality then we can feel in the middle of this moment.”

With around 30,000 delegates expected to attend COP26, there is a major shortage in accommodation with only around 15,000 hotel rooms in Glasgow.

Martin Johnstone, from the southside of Glasgow, is offering to be a host as part of the COP26 Homestay
Network.Claire Millar Photography via COP26 Coalition
Martin Johnstone, from the southside of Glasgow, is offering to be a host as part of the COP26 Homestay Network.
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There are thousands on the COP26 Homestay Network waiting list, set up by a partnership between the COP26 Coalition, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Danish homesharing organisation Human Hotel.

Mrs Clelland said her three boys are excited to be part of the event which is unprecedented in terms of its scale in the UK.

“My oldest boy enjoys modern studies,” she said, “He is really excited about having the world at our dinner table.

“It will be so exciting to have an interpreter who is working in the blue zone.”

Leanne Clelland is welcoming a COP26 delegate into her home.Leanne Clelland via Submitted
Leanne Clelland is welcoming a COP26 delegate into her home.

Being hosted on the banks of the Clyde at the Scottish Exhibition Centre, COP26 will run from October 31 until November 12 and accommodation nearby is in very high demand.

The price of digs means those who cannot afford the cost face an additional barrier to taking part in the summit beyond vaccines and securing visas.

Those in the Global South are those worst affected by the extreme weather events caused by climate change and the COP26 Coalition want to make it possible for their voices to be heard.

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Mrs Clelland, who works for Christian Aid, said: “It’s really important to have them speak up.

“To bear witness to the chaos extreme weather causes and help us understand that if we don’t act now the world will be much more precarious place for all of us.”

Scottish Greens minister Patrick Harvie said those countries and people least responsible for the climate crisis are the ones most severely affected by it and any deals struck at COP26 must include their voices.

He said: “I’m pleased that the COP26 Homestay Network is continuing the tradition of solidarity, linking local households with attendees to provide affordable accommodation, helping ensure that those critical voices are heard.

“Accommodation at any COP climate conference is challenging and Glasgow is no exception. This scheme gives local hosts a chance to do their bit to ensure a successful summit, meeting remarkable people from around the world while supporting the global movement to tackle climate change.”

You can find out more about how to be a host at the COP26 Homestay Network website here.