Shock, horror! COP26 has an electric car problem

Shock, horror! COP26 has an electric car problem
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Text settings

If absurdity were a source of renewable energy, the COP26 climate change summit might achieve its aim of saving the planet. Yesterday Mr S brought news that local lawyers are set to join rail engineers, transport operators, catering staff and refuse collectors in timing industrial action to coincide with next week’s eco-jamboree. Now Steerpike learns of a fresh crisis afflicting the UN conference: there’s not enough places to power the luxury electric cars needed to ferry delegates around the city.

Some 240 Jaguar Land Rover vehicles including its I-PACE SUVs will be laid on by the UK government to move the 120 visiting heads of state and their entourages between their hotels and the SEC venue. Unfortunately a lack of charging points means the fleet now has to be re-charged by cooking oil-powered generators. A COP26 spokesperson has confirmed that the substitute generators may have to run on hydrogenated vegetable oil – recycled cooking oil – derived from waste products. 

Compounding the problem is the lack of hotel capacity in the city which means longer energy-zapping journeys to get to the conference centre. The numbers of temporary generators provided and their locations have yet to be finalised, but there is speculation sites could include the Gleneagles Hotel, 47 miles from Glasgow.

Between 20,000 to 25,000 satraps, apparatchiks and flunkies will descend on the city for COP26. There are just not enough beds to accommodate them all. Wily Glaswegians, bless them, are cashing in: the Charing Cross Hotel is charging £3,818 for the first three nights of COP.

Entrepreneurial home owners, meanwhile, are renting out their properties for between roughly £400 and £600 a night for a two bedroom house. Mr S hears that even UK ministers are struggling to get rooms anywhere near the city, such is the demand. If the organisers can’t even foresee a hotel shortage, how can they be expected to achieve Net Zero?

And it’s not just officials. Steerpike understands that BBC staff going to COP have been told they can only ride in electric taxis rather than petrol-powered vehicles. To add insult to injury, the Beeb’s finest have been told that if their hotel doesn't have recycling facilities, they must dispose their waste into the correct recycling bins themselves.

Given Glasgow council is currently embroiled in a stand off with its bin-men, will anyone even be there to empty them?

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this articlePolitics