I’ve not written earlier simply because I thought I’d wait until I had something positive to say. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.

To be frank, I’m a bit frustrated. The point of observers at COP is to be the eyes and ears of civil society. However, very few of us can get near the actual negotiations because the sessions are “ticketed” and very few tickets are being made available. For example, an important meeting yesterday morning had 25 such tickets. There are thousands of observers here! The explanation given is “Covid” and the need to keep numbers down in rooms.

My experience at the preliminary “subsidiary bodies” meetings, on-line and 6 months ago, was very different. I could get into most of the meetings I was interested in and hear exactly what the various parties were saying. I’d expected COP26 to be similar but, sadly, I don’t even have on-line access to most meetings and there’s no obvious reason why Covid issues should stop me listening on-line. The explanation for on-line issue is software problems” but it all feels more deliberate than that.

A related issue is that far fewer observer passes have been distributed than usual. As you might expect the reason given is Covid but, as a result, I have been unable to obtain a pass for week two of the conference. I’ll be heading back south in the CCL battle-bus on Monday and will talk to you all some more at the national zoom call, next week, from the comfort of my own home. I’m sorry of that will seem a bit of let-down.

On the bright side, there are around 100 “pavilions”, mostly associated with individual countries, and each of these runs a dozen or more side-events every day. So there’s plenty to see and do and I’m certainly enjoying myself and learning a great deal. For example it was fascinating, today, to hear about how major banks plan to buy up coal-fired power stations and close them down so that they’re not still running in 30 or 40 years’ time. It’s good to know that people are working on how to take these assets out early.

But I’m not doing what I believe I am here to do!

Dave Waltham,


November 3rd 2021

Pictured above: watching Biden at COP26