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Cop26 diary: We can see through this lack of climate transparency

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Dr Rhoda Jennings, Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Clara Felberbauer & Vera O’Riordan are among the University College Cork (UCC) and Irish government delegation attending the UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow

Dr Rhoda Jennings, Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Clara Felberbauer & Vera O’Riordan are among the University College Cork (UCC) and Irish government delegation attending the UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow

Dr Rhoda Jennings, Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Clara Felberbauer & Vera O’Riordan are among the University College Cork (UCC) and Irish government delegation attending the UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow

"There's been 25 COPs before now and we have still managed to achieve very little, what's to say this one's any different?"

That was the thought for today from Anna, who was a delegate representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and is a local to Glasgow too, the city at the centre of all the fuss.

Perhaps some of the most troubling thoughts from today were the repeated mentions of the lack of transparency at the negotiations. People weren't allowed to attend the talks, and the conversations remain behind closed doors.

I'm no international security expert, but I am mystified as to why conversations on energy and climate go on in secret. What could possibly be said in climate negotiations that it would be more harmful to have it as public knowledge?

The mood of the conference follows on from the revelations that amongst the crowd, there are several fossil fuel lobbyists mingling.

The underwhelming climate finance pledges also seem to be throwing a damper on the negotiations. The humour could also be reflecting that this is day seven of what has been a very gruelling couple of weeks for anyone in the climate policy space.

I attended a talk by quite a nervous panel from the World Bioenergy Association, who were at pains to stress that they were in fact, not the bad guys for advocating for pellets and biomass production as a fuel.

There was also a great panel discussion on clean construction, at which a developer talked about the costs being the biggest barrier to why a client would opt for the less sustainable option. I was reminded of the time I spent working in an engineering project management consultancy.

In the absence of building regulations for local supply, sustainable materials and high-quality construction, upfront costs are king. In the presence of building regulations, they are only followed through with the power of a thousand man-hours.

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Overall the mood of the ‘Blue’ delegate zone is quite a mix at this point. On the upper floors of the event campus – in between talks and negotiations - benches are lined with people working away, writing for media, catching up on emails, and giving interviews. It feels like home to the world's largest remote working hub. The sheer level of knowledge I've encountered from young people during my time here has also been incredible.

Plenty of advocacy on public transport, cycling, reducing car use and vegetarianism - some of the best ways to cut your own carbon footprint, was to be found throughout the day. Some of the on-the-ground projects on sustainable farming and forestry really put a smile on my face.

But once the funding is coughed up for sustainability projects and the regulations on emitting industries and practices are put in place, I'll be delighted to not have to listen to another generic grandiose speech on a high level call to "action" to "collaborate" ever again.

Vera O’Riordan is a PhD student with the Energy Policy and Modelling Group at the MaREI centre at University College Cork and is part of the delegation from UCC attending the UN Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow


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