Attendees at COP26 climate change conference: FOI review

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Your request, reference 202100244582
1) How many Scottish Government officials/civil servants are accredited to attend the Cop 26 climate change conference in Glasgow?

2) How many Scottish Government press officers are accredited to attend the Cop 26 climate change conference in Glasgow?

Your review request, reference 202100253836 
I am writing to appeal the Scottish Government's response to my request of October 4 asking for the number of officials and press officers who had accredited for Cop26. There has been no substantive response to this and no attempt to argue that any of the FoI legislation's exemptions apply (they do not).

The only answer I received was that the number was in flux but this should not have prevented the numbers being provided, with effect from the date the request was made. It is ridiculous that a substantive response has not been provided to a request that is so simple and straightforward.


Further to my letter of 19 November 2021, I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for information regarding the number of officials and press officers accredited for COP26.

I have concluded that a different decision should be substituted, and I have provided the information you have requested below.

1) A total of 122 officials/civil servants were accredited to work for the Scottish Government during COP26. This figure reflects passes issued from the UK Government or directly by the UNFCCC.

In addition, a number of Scottish Government staff volunteered to work with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and UNFCCC, and were accredited in support of the FCDO or UNFCCC’s objectives. Just under 80 Scottish Government staff completed the accreditation process to enable their attendance at COP26 in support of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office or the UNFCCC.

Therefore the total count for accredited officials, civil servants and volunteer staff from the Scottish Government, for entry into the Blue Zone, is approximately 200 individuals. (Please note that not all of those accredited attended COP26, for a range of reasons including meetings being cancelled, or because they were accredited as a contingency in case other staff were unable to attend due to a positive Covid-19 case.)

2) Of the 200 total accreditees, a team of 8 individuals were accredited to handle media and press relations throughout COP26. Please note, however that these accredited individuals operated in a rotational shift pattern, and attendance was capped at no more than three on any given day.

I have also concluded from my review that your original request for information was not handled correctly under the FOISA and that no FOISA exemption was applied to the decision not to provide the information you requested. I also note that the process for requesting a review was not set out in the response you received. I apologise for these oversights and for the failure to respond to your request in line with the terms of the FOISA. I hope that the above information meets your requirements, and apologise that this has been provided after a delay of several weeks since your original request. I can confirm that steps are being taken to ensure that the officials concerned with this case apply the correct procedures under the FOISA to all future requests for information.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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