Editor-in-Chief


Editor-in-Chief Lucy Dunn discusses her time inside COP26, day by day.

Day 1: Sunday 31 October

I'd applied for media accreditation at COP26 back in September, yet it was on the morning of Saturday 30 October, less than a day before the climate conference was due to begin, that I received official confirmation. Over the moon, given my doubts about whether a student newspaper would be accredited in the first place, I was more than a little daunted about the situation. Last minute, I had to not only turn up to COP26 with the correct documents and emailed letters and proof of identity - I routinely lose my passport so this in itself was a task - but figure out the timetable of events, how to attend them, and how The Glasgow Guardian was going to cover it all. 

Turning up for the registration involved a walk from the West End onto the cusp of the city, a show of ID and the acknowledgement letter of proof of vaccination, and a push through the metal turnstiles took me into the UN enclosure. Further security checks then led me into a faux-airport set up. My bag was held up, my heart in my mouth as I was scrutinised about its possible contents. My car keys, it turned out, were the offending item.

"My bag was held up, my heart in my mouth as I was scrutinised about its possible contents. My car keys, it turned out, were the offending item."

Following the swathes of people swarming through the building, the registration desks were next. Much to my dismay, I received a plain dark blue lanyard, kept for press, apparently - not the light blue "UNFCCC" branded ones other delegates proudly sported, despite my not-so-subtle eyeing up of the stash lying next to the secretariat's hand. 

So I received my printed out badge, and that was me registered, but where next? Everyone else seemed to be continuing on through the building, so I followed suit. Badge scanned and ID checked, I moved through to the next part of the site. Split into alphabetical sections, signs for the "Media Centre" directed me towards "H", right at the opposite end of the building. My 18,000 step count for the day can account for the fact that this was a considerable walk.

Credit: Lucy Dunn

I recognised the outline of the SEC at first, under its redesign into an eco hub, but the further I walked the more elaborate the decoration seemed to get. Bright green SSE telephone boxes appeared on my left, and on closer inspection, they were actually housing people, perched on high seats, folded over laptops. In fact, everywhere I looked, everyone seemed to be hunched over - in admittedly extremely comfy looking chairs - laptops or cameras or phones, or pacing urgently through the hallway. Continuing on, a honeycomb-shaped exhibition loomed on my right, and then a fresh set of doors took me to the next part of the centre.

"Bright green SSE telephone boxes appeared on my left, and on closer inspection, they were actually housing people, perched on high seats, folded over laptops."

Eventually getting to the media hub, I felt another twinge of imposter syndrome. People hurried around me with press badges stating their belonging to CNN, The Daily Mail, and Al Jazeera - to name a few. I wandered around the ground floor, trying to find my bearings. Behind a help desk were rows upon rows of desks each with their own TV set up, the screen divided into four. Name badges were set out for specific broadcasters. As I approached the back, I noticed temporary rooms filled with more computers. One was labelled "ITN, Channel 4 and 5", the other was some facet of the BBC. 

It was amazing, on one level, to be surrounded by, but on another I couldn't push away the feeling that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing in comparison to the bustling around me. Not necessarily the world's most organised individual, this level of unpreparedness was still getting to me. So you can imagine my relief when I turned the corner and came face to face with a sign for the "Media Information Desk/Centre". 

After a couple of discussions and the emailing of an extremely informative PDF, I was sent back down the stairs to a second information desk. It turns out that media accreditation to COP26 did not guarantee entry to all the different events being held, particularly the several across the first few days that world leaders would be attending. For this, you had to try and get into the press pool. This wasn't always possible either: for several, press allowed into the pool had to be chosen by their country's government. The more I heard, the more I doubted I would actually get to see Biden after all. When my competition appeared to be globally-renowned media outlets, The Glasgow Guardian hardly seemed as though it would get a look in. But, I decided, there's no harm in asking.

"The more I heard, the more I doubted I would actually get to see Biden after all."

Three hours later, when the queue hadn't moved more than a metre, I was contemplating whether, in fact, there may be harm in asking. However, I'd been standing next to a woman from CNN and a man from what sounded like the Dutch version of The Telegraph for this time and judging from their conversation, I had figured out roughly what I should be asking for. Eventually, the door opened, and I was introduced to a UN official, and the one, singular man who seemed to be organising all press access for the entire event, Tim Davies. 

Thinking I had to present my case for the paper, I spent the first few minutes explaining to him who The Glasgow Guardian were and why it was imperative that we should be in the room with Boris, Biden and the rest. He seemed mildly amused, and perhaps found the uncertainty endearing, because after I stated I'd like access to the High-Level Summit on Monday morning, he nodded, "done", and my name was down. Much easier than I had expected. 

"I spent the first few minutes explaining to him who The Glasgow Guardian were and why it was imperative that we should be in the room with Boris, Biden and the rest."

"I'd also like to attend the National Statements," I told him. He nodded, looking at his list. "Which ones?" That caught me out. I wasn't exactly sure which ones would be happening on Monday afternoon, but they had definitely sounded worth attending. I took a shot. "All of them," I said. He stopped scrutinising his laptop screen. "All of them?" Pausing, he said: "I've not had anyone ask to see all of them before. You know it will be several hours you'd need to be in there for?" 

Back down or double down? I wondered. "All of them, definitely," I said firmly, "That's what I've got here." He turned to another UN worker next to him, and mumbled something. He turned back, apparently amused. I was certain he had clocked on I didn't fully grasp the usual protocol, but regardless of the fact, The Glasgow Guardian was being added to a select press pool list consisting otherwise only of AFP and Reuters. "Meet me at the media meeting point at 11.15am," he told me as I was leaving, "and then 1.15pm, for the statements."


I left the COP site six hours after I'd entered, not quite believing my luck. I still didn't want to get too hopeful, but it seemed like The Glasgow Guardian was going to see some world leaders after all.


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