Firms that spent millions of pounds to sponsor the Cop26 climate summit later this month labelled the event as “mismanaged” and “very last minute”.
The sponsors formally complained about UK’s “very inexperienced” civil servants for postponed decisions, bad communication and decaying relationships between the companies and the organisers.
The summit is led by Cabinet Office minister Alok Sharma, and businessman Nigel Topping, appointed as the High Level Climate Action Champion by the government.
Major sponsors include Sky, energy giants Hitachi, National Grid, Scottish Power and SSE, as well as NatWest, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s and Unilever – but the latter refused to sign a complaint letter sent by Sky on behalf of the sponsors.
The sponsors have been promised an “outstanding opportunity” and “unique benefits”, such as promoting their companies at the event and having ministers attending their events in return.
But sources told The Guardian that there has been a lack of information about how the event will run, companies discovered rivals would be attending against what they were previously told, and promises such as having ministers coming to sponsors’ events have not been kept.
“Shifting goal posts” and “inertia”among the event planners were also complained about, as well as the “top-down public sector approach” which shocked companies used to professionalism in high-profile events.
In addition, high costs required by the UK organisers have raised concerns about developing nations, with some claiming pavilion renting is up to 30 per cent more expensive than it was at Cop25 in Madrid.
A Cop26 spokesperson said organisers are “working closely” with sponsors to ensure the lowest possible costs for taxpayers.
Government climate action?
Meanwhile, the UK government came under fire last week for telling its trade negotiators to not let environmental concerns get in the way of post-Brexit trade deals, according to a leaked document.
The document, signed by the Department for International Trade, suggests the UK shouldn’t refuse a deal if other countries do not mention environmental safeguards in agreements.
The paper, first reported on by Sky News, showed department leaders said the “economic case” was more important when considering trade deals.
In August, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a report that humans’ harmful impact on the planet is already “locked in” for decades but the climate crisis could get much worse.
Without rapid and large-scale action to cut down emissions, global temperatures are set to increase – and pass the critical 1.5-degree Celsius threshold in the next two decades.
At the time, prime minister Boris Johnson labelled the report as “sobering reading”, and called for the world to “take action now”, before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of this month.