Anger as Israeli minister says she could not attend COP26 summit in wheelchair – Daily Record

Israel’s energy minister claims she was unable to take part in the COP26 summit on Monday because the transportation offered to her was not accessible by wheelchair.

Karine Elharrar says she could not reach the conference grounds because the only options to get there from the gathering area were to walk or board a shuttle bus that was unsuitable for a wheelchair.

She wrote on Twitter: “I came to COP26 to meet with my counterparts around the world and promote a common struggle in the climate crisis.

“It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not provide accessibility to its events.

“Hopefully the lessons learned will be learned so that tomorrow green energy promotion, removal of barriers and energy efficiency will be the things I will deal with.”

Israel’s foreign minister called out the conference organisers, saying: “It is impossible to worry about the future, the climate and about people if we do not first take care of human beings, accessibility and disabilities.”

The UK ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, also apologised for the situation and said he was “disturbed” to hear about it.

The Foreign Office minister James Cleverly also spoke out about the incident and said he was “deeply disappointed and frustrated” that Ms Elharrar could not access the summit.

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He wrote on Twitter: “The COP venue is designed to be accessible for all. I have spoken to the Minister about this and I look forward to meeting her tomorrow.”

Both the ambassador and Foreign Office minister have spoken to Karine Elharrar.

Scottish Labour MSP, Pam Duncan-Glancy, who is the first permanent wheelchair user elected to Holyrood also criticised the climate conference on Twitter.

She wrote: “This is outrageous.

“From travel to the conference in an inaccessible shuttle (like, seriously) to no one being able to direct to the accessible route, this is an epic planning failure.

“We cannot have climate justice without social justice. They need to sort this ASAP.”

An official in the Israeli PM’s delegation said Mr Bennett had told Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the incident, the BBC reported.

Mr Johnson had invited Ms Elharrar to join a meeting between the two prime ministers on Tuesday, the report added.

Some 25,000 negotiators and hangers-on will try to wrestle more money and pledges out of rich nations at COP26.

The UN summit is aiming to “keep 1.5 alive” – limit global temperature rises to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But it could currently hit 2.7C by 2100 and a gloomy UK source told the Mirror it’ll be a success “if we can get closer to 2C than we are to 3C” this fortnight.

A COP26 spokesperson said: “The site is accessible and there are blue badge spaces for the conference along with two fully accessible shuttle busses.”

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