Hot food, water and waste bins

Hot food, water and waste bins

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — On the third day, the smell of burgers wafted through the air. Around the courtyard of the massive conference complex where this year’s United Nations global climate summit is being held, hungry delegates rioted.

“I haven’t eaten much here,” said Sylvia Muia, a Kenyan reporter for Climate Tracker who had followed her nose Tuesday afternoon into a line stretching across the yard. At the front of it was a booth selling $12 burgers, the first hot food available in the area throughout the convention.

Told that the kiosk 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 was still early days, but COP27 was already drawing joking comparisons to Fyre Festival, the disastrously bogus music festival of 2017 in the Bahamas, where attendees were left clawing for wet mattresses and cold sandwiches when the luxury villas, pig roasts and celebrities who they did that advertised failed to materialize.

The conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh had plenty of headlines, not to mention actual beds. But a distinct lack of food and water as some 40,000 delegates descended on the conference was causing resounding concern.

When the conference opened on Sunday, the site’s only restaurant, a buffet with about 200 seats, was feeding the attendees briskly.

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

World leaders weren’t much better. The VIP tent where they sat before giving their speeches was empty of food by about 6pm on Monday.

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

Some booths with events and exhibits sponsored by various UN agencies, countries and non-governmental groups offered dried mango, caramel or espresso — a rare commodity. But a substantial meal was hard to come by.

Some delegations resorted to sending an emissary to the nearest pizza place. Others survived on protein bars or food from their hotel’s breakfast buffet.

Dozens of office-style coolers around the site promised drinking water. Unfortunately, most were empty and rarely restocked. 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 save-the-planet conference.

Before the summit, Egypt had announced that Sharm El Sheikh would go green. Cloth bags and biodegradable food packaging replaced plastic cutlery and bags. Recycling bins were delivered and solar panels were installed. The delegates traveled in electric buses or buses powered by natural gas, which Egypt said burns cleaner than other fuels.

“The opportunity to host COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh gave us 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 were going awry.

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

On site, it was easy to find colorful new bins for recycling paper, plastic and boxes. But places to dispose of other waste were scarce.

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

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