Environmental campaigners have sounded the alarm bell on a “mound of floating plastic” seen on Glasgow’s River Clyde this weekend. Startling photographs shared on Sunday appeared to show dozens of discarded bottles, plastic wrappers and footballs drifting on a makeshift barge of twigs and wood. The rubbish was said to be pooling around a ferry used by the organizers of The Extreme Hangout at COP26.
The event will see eminent guests including NASA astronaut Ron Garan, adventurer Bear Grylls and Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy address the climate crisis.
In an ironic twist of events, the Extreme Hangout will kick off at 3pm today with a discussion concerning single-use plastics and their role in climate change.
Amber Nuttall, co-creator of The Extreme Hangout at COP26, said: “Today as I was confronted by the mound of floating plastic outside our event, it really bought home how important our mission at COP26 is.
“Our vision for The Extreme Hangout at COP26 was fuelled by the realisation that the voices of young people are so often ignored, dismissed or patronised.
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“They are the ones who are going to inherit this planet and will be impacted most by the climate crisis, is vital that their concerns be heard loud and clear at COP26, their active participation is crucial.”
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have already come under fire for their handling of the summit.
According to recent reports, Glasgow has been overrun with rats, flytipping and gridlocked roads.
Glasgow’s bin collectors have also gone on strike this week, in a decision Glasgow City Council has called “very disappointing”.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of Plastic Planet, said: “Plastic is our environmental crisis in plain sight.
“Billions of items are thrown away daily, polluting our planet for centuries.
“Plastic is the canary in the climate crisis coal mine, so it is somehow fitting that our guilty habits have washed up on the shores of the Clyde and The Extreme Hangout at COP26.
“The fossil fuel industry plan to treble plastic production by 2040, emitting more greenhouse gasses than the coal industry.
“Let us make sure plastic is high on the COP agenda to stop this happening.”
Ahead of the summit, Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow’s SNP-run city council, said the city would only need a “spruce-up” to welcome world leaders and climate delegations.
However, she came under fire for her comments from the Scottish Conservatives opposition who feel Scotland is sending the wrong message to the world.
Glasgow MSP Sandesh Gulhane said: “The city is in an absolutely sorry state.
“Make no bones about it: We have an absolutely disgusting, filthy city full of rubbish.
“To say that Glasgow ‘needs a wee spruce-up’ is the most out-of-touch thing that I have ever heard.”
Asked about the Scottish Government’s handling of the situation, a spokesperson told Express.co.uk last month Scotland is proud to host the climate summit.
They said: “We have been working very closely with the UK Government and partners, including Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland, to deliver a safe, secure and successful COP26 in November.
“COP26 represents the world’s best chance – and possibly one of our last chances – to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
“That’s why it is important that world leaders are coming together in person in Glasgow, to mobilise the ambition, finance, resources and joint working needed to deliver on the Paris Agreement goals.”
The COP26 summit will end next week on Friday, November 12.
The Extreme Hangout at COP26 will wrap up by November 6 with a discussion of the global food system.
Express.co.uk asked Glasgow City Council to comment.