Hot food, water and litter boxes

Hot food, water and litter boxes

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt – On the third day, the smell of pyramids wafted through the air. In the courtyard of the vast conference complex hosting this year’s UN Global Climate Summit, hungry delegates cheered.

“I haven’t eaten much here,” said Sylvia Muya, a Kenyan reporter for Climate Tracker, who followed her nose to a line that stretched across the yard on Tuesday afternoon. In front of it was a booth selling $12 burgers, the first hot food available in that area at the entire convention.

Told that stall workers had promised more food by Wednesday, he laughed. “It’s a little late,” he said. “Ah, we’re already hungry.”

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It’s still early days, but COP27 has already been jokingly compared to Fyre Festival, 2017’s disastrously fraudulent music festival in the Bahamas, where attendees clawed for wet mattresses and cold sandwiches as luxury villas, pig roasts and famous people’s actions. the ad failed.

The conference, held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, had plenty of headlines, not to mention actual beds. But the apparent lack of food and water as the nearly 40,000 delegates descended on the conference was an audible bewilderment.

When the convention opened on Sunday, the venue’s only restaurant, a roughly 200-seat buffet, was quickly feeding attendees.

But on Monday and Tuesday, as world leaders claimed the summit stage and crowds swelled, most climate activists, oil and gas executives, government negotiators and other dignitaries found themselves in hot, hours-long lines at several stalls selling expensive Nescafe. coffee and pastries that ran out by noon.

World leaders were not much better off. The VIP tent where they were seated before giving their speeches was empty of food by 6pm on Monday.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni began waiting to go on stage, leaving her hungry for more than two hours as performances were postponed.

Several booths showcasing events and exhibits sponsored by various UN agencies, countries and non-governmental groups offered dried mangoes, candy or espresso, a rare commodity. But a substantial meal was hard to come by.

Some delegations asked to send an emissary to the nearest pizza place. Others subsisted on protein bars or food gleaned from hotel breakfast buffets.

Dozens of office-style coolers around the venue promised drinking water. Unfortunately, most were empty and rarely supplied. The few who had water often had no cups to drink it from. Plastic water bottles have become a common sight, not ideal for a conference about saving the planet.

Before the summit, Egypt announced that Sharm El Sheikh will be green. Cloth bags and biodegradable food packaging have replaced plastic cutlery and bags; Recycling bins provided, solar panels installed. Delegates traveled in electric buses or buses powered by natural gas, which Egypt says burn cleaner than other fuels.

“The opportunity to host COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh gave us more motivation to change the whole city,” Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmin Fouad told Arab News ahead of the summit.

But everywhere you looked, good intentions were being diverted.

As thousands of delegates left the conference in the evening, traffic jams meant they had to wait 45 minutes or more for buses.

At the event, it was easy to find new colorful bins for recycling paper, plastic and cans. However, there were few places to dispose of other waste.

By the end of the day on Monday, many of the recycling bins were overflowing with trash.

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