As world leaders came together at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, mounds of trash reportedly continued to pile up “just a short way” from the global summit.
The New York Times reported, “Outside the gleaming center of Scotland’s largest city, dumpsters and trash cans are overflowing.” According to the outlet, “The city’s rat population has surged, with four garbage workers hospitalized because of attacks over the past five months. And litter is strewn across streets.”
Fly-tippers have been discarding rubbish underneath the M8 motorway, among other places in the city, including construction waste, bathtubs, and general household waste.
The Times described the scene as “… the reality of today’s throwaway society,” made worse by an eight-day strike staged by the city’s garbage collectors that concluded on Monday. Workers complained about low pay, disrespectful treatment from management, and adverse working conditions. They threatened another work stoppage before Christmastime if pay raises are not granted.
Away from the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow’s gleaming center, dumpsters are overflowing, the city’s rat population has surged and litter is strewn across streets after an eight-day strike by garbage collectors that ended on Monday.https://t.co/N3oYVwcbCt
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 11, 2021
Chris Mitchell, a top official for the GMB Scotland trade union that represents approximately 1,000 garbage collectors in Glasgow, claims the government has “abandoned low paid workers who have saved this nation” during the pandemic ever since COVID-19 infections have decreased.
More details from the Times:
In parts of the city, trash is now collected only once every three weeks, down from once every two weeks about a year ago. That means garbage collectors, many of whom make less than 20,000 British pounds ($27,000) a year, have to carry heavier loads up and down steps.
On top of the less frequent collections, volumes of trash per household climbed over the past two years, a reflection of increased spending on takeout and online deliveries, according to Mr. Mitchell.
“The pandemic has created waste upon waste upon waste,” he said.
The Glasgow City Council’s website indicates that it was chosen to host COP26 partly due to its “commitment to sustainability,” adding that the town was recently “awarded the status of Global Green City” and has “an ambitious target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.”
During the two-week conference, thousands of protesters and youth organizers have gathered in the streets of Glasgow for a series of demonstrations expressing frustration with the world leaders in town. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 18, recently led a protest near the international summit, describing the meeting as “a PR event” and a “two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.”
“It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure,” said Thunberg. “It should be obvious that we cannot solve the crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place.”
“The people in power can continue to live in their bubble filled with their fantasies, like eternal growth on a finite planet and technological solutions that will suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere and will erase all of these crises just like that.”
“All this while the world is literally burning, on fire, and while the people living on the front lines are still bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.”