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Sponsors raise doubts about the success of COP26

Million-pound corporate sponsors of the world’s most important climate summit have complained that the event has been grossly ‘mismanaged’ with plans coming together at the ‘very last minute’.

With COP26 kicking off in Glasgow in less than two weeks, concerns are mounting over whether or not the event will be able to run smoothly.

Major sponsors of the climate summit such as NatWest, Microsoft, and Unilever have made serious complaints regarding the haste and efficacy of the UK governments’ civil servants, who have been tasked with event planning.

Poor communication, delayed decision-making, and shaky relationship building tactics with organisers and firms have been highlighted as issues throughout the lead up to the summit.

Indeed, formulating a meeting between global leaders – let alone the most crucial climate event to date – requires immense skill and organisation if substantial decisions and imperative goals are to be agreed upon during scheduled talks.

But judging from a letter written by key sponsor Sky, and co-signed by leaders from other COP26 backers, the lack of experienced delegates involved with preparation has caused uncertainty to brew from as early as July.

‘They had an extra year to prepare for COP due to Covid, but it doesn’t feel like this time was used to make better progress. Everything feels very last minute,’ an employee of a COP26 sponsor told the Guardian.

The event’s corporate sponsors and other organisations were promised ‘outstanding opportunities’ and ‘unique benefits’ to promote their brands in an area called the ‘green zone’ in return for providing large sums of funding.

However they have complained that a solid agenda for ‘the green zone’, where sponsors and government ministers will meet at various exhibitions, has yet to come to fruition.

Causing more frustration, energy companies sponsoring the event ‘were under the impression that no other energy brands would feature at COP26,’ when in fact, the UN will have its own list of energy companies present in the ‘blue zone’.

Frankly, this voiced frustration come across as a clash relating to business deals. Subsequently, long-time attendees of climate summits are arguing that some sponsors’ approach threatens to dilute the real motivations of COP26.

Rather than viewing COP26 as a publicity event to exhibit their corporate green agenda, sponsors should bear in mind that they are investing in a key opportunity to help save our planet.

‘It feels like some of these sponsors have forgotten the actual reason we’re in Glasgow. Cop isn’t about branding, it’s about tackling climate change,’ said a UK civil servant and long-time attendee of climate summits.

The public has not been shrouded from the messy handling of COP26, which has sparked criticism from organisations and activists.

For this reason, police in Scotland are preparing for at least 150,000 protesters to take to the streets during the two week-long event. Over 10,000 police officers have been assigned to post on the streets each day, to ensure that demonstrations remain peaceful.

At risk of sounding overly optimistic, there is still time for COP26 to be a success if organisers can act quickly to tie up loose ends. For their sake – and ours – we hope this is the case. The whole world is waiting and watching!

 

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