'Ridiculous': People 'ironically' forced to fly to COP26 due to extreme weather

31 October 2021, 17:03 | Updated: 31 October 2021, 22:38

Hundreds of people have had their journey to COP26 disrupted, with some resorting to last-minute flights
Hundreds of people have had their journey to COP26 disrupted, with some resorting to last-minute flights. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Hundreds of people have had their journeys to COP26 disrupted by bad weather in an "ironic" twist of events that highlights the need to adapt to extreme weather events.

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Passengers were left stranded inside London's Euston station after a fallen tree halted services, with many even forced to book domestic flights to the conference on climate change.

David Johnson, chief executive of an NGO called the Margaret Pyke Trust, was left sitting on his Glasgow-bound train from London Euston for more than half an hour on Sunday morning before eventually being told to get off along with his fellow passengers.

He was one of many who booked a flight from Gatwick to Glasgow, saying it "does, of course, seem ridiculous".

"The irony of the climate impacting the trains, meaning a flight to the climate change conference is the only way to get there today, is not lost on me," he said.

Hundreds of people were stranded at London Euston after a campaign for delegates to take the train
Hundreds of people were stranded at London Euston after a campaign for delegates to take the train. Picture: Alamy

Climate change scientist Simon Lewis said he has been stuck on a train for more than three hours as a result of the weather disruption on his way to COP26.

The 49-year-old professor, from University College London, was on the 11am service from London to Edinburgh but has been stuck since 11:45am as a result of trees felled by the wind.

"We are moving a tiny bit every now and again, but have not made it to Peterborough yet, the first stop," he said.

"This is inconvenient and a reminder that climate change drives extreme weather events and every country needs to adapt."

But he added: "A stopped train is nothing compared to the two million people displaced by flooding in Shanxi province in China, last month, and those facing famine today in Madagascar."

Read more: Heavy rain deluges UK with warnings in place and more flooding expected

Read more: 'Cop26 is the last hope to save our precious planet' as UK takes centre stage

Gwen Buck, a policy adviser from environmental think-tank Green Alliance, said she plans to travel to COP26 tomorrow instead after being hit by rail issues on her journey from Brighton to Glasgow.

The 29-year-old said she is concerned about the effect the disruption could have on international visitors.

"Whilst it's a little frustrating for me, I'm lucky as I have family I can stay with in London," she said.

"For COP26 to be a success, it must have representatives from across the world.

"My concern is that it will be much more difficult for delegates coming from abroad and who don't have English as a first language and who will have found themselves stranded between London and Glasgow."

Greta Thunberg arrives in Glasgow for COP26

Extreme weather events such as floods, storms and droughts are all expected to become more common as a result of climate change.

Learning how to deal with them efficiently is one of the key things to be discussed at COP26.

Many will argue that the events of today show how important this is - and how far we still have to go.

Read more: Boy, 15, charged with stabbing murder of man in East London

Read more: Forget 'trivial' fishing row or risk ruining crucial Cop26 talks, Boris and Macron told

An announcement at Euston just before 2pm revealed all train services had been suspended and the concourse was "exit only" due to overcrowding.

The disruption came as a result of damage to overhead electrical wires between Rugby and Milton Keynes on the West Coast Main Line.

Network Rail said its teams are on site near Long Buckby in Northamptonshire, where the damage occurred.

The company said it is working to remove the fallen tree before assessing the damage and beginning repairs.

Travellers are advised not to go to Euston and instead check for regular updates.