Hot food, water and trash cans

Hot food, water and trash cans

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — On the third day, the smell of burgers wafted through the air. Around the courtyard of the huge conference complex where this year’s United Nations World Climate Summit is taking place, hungry delegates gasped.

“I didn’t eat much here,” said Sylvia Muia, a Kenyan reporter for Climate Tracker, who followed her nose to a line that stretched across the courtyard on Tuesday afternoon. At the front was a kiosk selling $12 burgers, the first hot meal in the area of ​​the entire conference.

When told kiosk workers had promised more food by Wednesday, she laughed. “It’s a little late,” she said. “Uh, we’re starving already.”

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It was early days, but COP27 was already drawing joking comparisons to the Fyre Festival, 2017’s disastrously cheating music festival in the Bahamas, which had attendees clawing at wet mattresses and cold sandwiches when the luxury mansions, roast pork and celebrity appearances were advertised was not achieved.

The conference in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh had plenty of headliners, not to mention real beds. But a distinct shortage of food and water when some 40,000 delegates turned up for the conference caused audible dismay.

When the conference opened on Sunday, the venue’s only restaurant, a buffet seating approximately 200, provided attendees with lively catering.

But on Monday and Tuesday, as world leaders claimed the summit stage and crowds grew, most climate activists, oil and gas executives, government negotiators and other dignitaries found themselves in hot, hour-long lines at a handful of kiosks again, the overpriced Nescafe were selling coffee and pastries which ran out by the afternoon.

World leaders weren’t much better off. The VIP tent where they sat before delivering their speeches was empty around 6pm on Monday.

Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s prime minister, was waiting to take the stage around this time, leaving her hungry for more than two hours as speeches were delayed.

Some pavilions with events and exhibitions sponsored by various UN agencies, countries and NGOs offered dried mangoes, sweets or espresso – a rare commodity. But a substantial lunch was hard to come by.

Some delegations sent an emissary to the nearest pizzeria; others subsisted on protein bars or groceries pocketed from their hotel breakfast buffets.

Dozens of office-style coolers around the venue promised drinking water. Unfortunately, most were empty and were rarely refilled. The few who had water often lacked cups to drink it. Plastic bottles of water became a common sight – not ideal for a conference about saving the planet.

Before the summit, Egypt announced that Sharm el-Sheikh would go green. Cloth bags and biodegradable food wrap replaced plastic cutlery and bags; Recycling bins have been delivered and solar panels have been ramped up. Delegates drove around in electric buses or buses powered by natural gas, which Egypt says burns cleaner than other fuels.

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

But everywhere you looked, good intentions went awry.

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

Finding colorful new bins for recycling paper, plastic and cans was easy at the venue. But places where other waste could be disposed of were scarce.

By the end of Monday, many of the recycling bins were full of trash.

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