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Sponsors condemn COP26 as “mismanaged” and “last minute”

Sponsors of the COP26 climate conference have condemned the organisation of the event as “mismanaged” and “very last minute”, according to reports.

Some of the UK’s biggest companies have raised formal complaints about issues such as delayed decisions due to “very inexperienced” civil servants, poor communication and a breakdown in relations with organisers, The Guardian has reported.

The newspaper says the concerns have been raised in a letter written by Sky, one of the event sponsors, and co-signed by people in senior positions at other event sponsors. This letter follows another similar co-signed letter sent in July.

Some of the sponsors are frustrated over lack of information about how the event will run. COP26 organisers promised “unique benefits” to those sponsoring the event, including opportunities at the conference’s “green zone” exhibition space and the participation of government ministers at their events.

A Cop source said: “The majority of corporate sponsors, who are receiving unprecedented access to this event, tell us they are delighted with the support.”

Organisation of the event is being led by COP26 president and former business secretary Alok Sharma and businessman Nigel Topping, who is the Government’s high-level climate action champion.

Sponsorship is expected to help provide money for an estimated £250 million policing bill at the event in Glasgow.

The event’s major sponsors include Sky, Hitachi, National Grid, Scottish Power, SSE, Microsoft, GSK, NatWest, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. Unilever has denied signing the Sky-penned letter.

The climate conference is considered one of the last chances the world has to get on track to meet its climate ambitions. The summit, which has already been postponed by a year due to Covid-19, is set to take place in Glasgow in early November. It is the first time since the Paris Climate Change conference in 2015 that countries will set new ambitions for targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The event has already attracted controversy when Alok Sharma was accused of ‘hypocrisy’ after racking up tens of thousands of air miles in quick succession.

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