Glasgow, Oct 23 (IANS): As the 26th UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change, also known as COP26, is set to open in eight days in Glasgow, an accommodation crisis is sweeping the most populous city in Scotland, as thousands of attendees are still looking for a hotel room ahead of the high-profile international event.
As the event, slated from October 31 to November 12, is expected to gather more than 30,000 people from around the world, it has pushed hotel prices up to above 600 pounds ($828) a night in Glasgow at present, according to a report by the Xinhua news agency.
Hiking of the hotel prices highlight the hardship COP26 attendees have to face in securing a bed in the host city amid mounting health risks brought by Covid-19, which is described by The Financial Times as "the most difficult hurdle of all".
An eye-popping example reported by the British media is that one room which normally costs 42 pounds was advertised at 1,400 pounds.
What's more surprising is that the price of a standard room for one person at a hotel in Argyle Street has rocketed to 6,540 pounds -- almost five times more than the cost of a 10-day stay on the same dates a month earlier.
During COP26, negotiations and workshops often run through the night. Staying close to the conference centre is no doubt a top priority for participants. However, many cannot afford the exorbitant room prices in Glasgow, and are not prepared to confront the thorny problem.
A shortage of affordable accommodation even forced some to book rooms more than 200 km away from the conference venue, according to local media. The soaring prices of hotel rooms in the largest Scottish city have also prompted local residents to open their houses and cash in. The hot wave even spread to Edinburgh, about 70 km east of Glasgow, and further.
The lack of beds has become so dire that two cruise ships are berthed on the River Clyde to be makeshift dormitories for people working at the UN conference.
At the same time, the costs of renting COP26 pavilions and space for hosting workshops, panels discussions and keynote speeches during the conference are considerably higher than they were at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019.
Already delayed by a year due to Covid-19, the conference designed to seek joint solutions to climate change, an urgent common challenge for all mankind, should not be held up again by hurdles caused by human faults.
Fair-priced hotel rooms are crucial for the extensive participation of all parties related, especially developing nations.
The widespread bed hunting in Glasgow has also drawn much criticism to the UK government for a "shambolic preparation" for the UN conference.
The Guardian described the Glasgow conference as "confusing and expansive" and many British people fear the upcoming UN gathering would be "the most exclusionary COP ever".
The overly high pricing of everything in Glasgow soon sparked concerns that smaller nations would be priced out of hosting pavilions, as one organisation was quoted to have spent nearly 50,000 pounds, and another was forced to scale back space for their pavilion.
The UN has called on developing countries affected by the high conference costs to speak to the UK government, as it is obliged to ensure equitable and safe participation by all nations.
Embassies and businesses have also been contacting the Downing Street for being unable to get hotel rooms, according to local media.