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Glasgow finds common cause in tackling climate change with peers in USA and Chile

In advancing its global connections, Glasgow will enter into partnership agreements with the cities of Pittsburgh, USA and Santiago, Chile.

The move, agreed by the council’s City Administration Committee, today,  will see formal relationships established between Glasgow and each city, with agreed areas where knowledge and experience on urban policies and projects can be shared, for mutual benefit.

The cities were chosen because of their carbon heavy industrial pasts and now post-industrial challenges and shared goals of innovation, environmental sustainability and equity, similar to Glasgow.

Glasgow’s hosting of the United Nations’ climate change conference, COP26, has acted as a catalyst in furthering its ambitions to be a city at the forefront in tackling climate change and stand together with similar cities, with common cause.

Partnering in this way includes opportunities for peer to peer learning and opening up potential funding opportunities.

For example, as twin titans of the industrial age, dialogue with Pittsburgh goes back as far as the early 1960s, and has taken root over the past twenty years. Policy exchanges have been supported by grants from the Soros Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as shared membership of the Resilient Cities Network.

The transatlantic exchange of learning includes the academic memorandum of understanding in Glasgow that was based on experience in Pittsburgh of its own ‘town-gown’ community and academic engagement work. Correspondingly, Pittsburgh has looked to the partnership model of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health to inform its local approach to urban health inequalities.

Pittsburgh are ideal partners with a shared trajectory from heavy industry to a current agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth that links them to the focus on cities delivering on the emission targets announced by nations.

The city is also exercising a strong leadership role in the North American chapter of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and the newly launched Climate Mayors Steering Committee, who serve as a leading voice in efforts to further climate action across the United States.

Santiago was recognised as a potential partner via a matchmaking process through the European Commission International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme that identified common interests across a range of environmental, economic and social priorities and fulfilled Glasgow’s commitment to link with the global south.

As previous host of COP25 in 2019 and now co-leader of the global Sub-National Agenda of the Santiago-Glasgow Route towards the COP26, Santiago also realises the urgency of collaboration on the climate, health and ecological emergencies and inherent duty to be frontrunner cities in the Race to Zero.

This was in addition to an existing shared priority to address homelessness with Santiago via the Institute of Global Homelessness Vanguard City work.

Glasgow will look to collaborate with the city on knowledge exchange, policy development and action on encouraging electric vehicles, developing a circular economy engaging local communities and young people and working within the creative sectors.

The partnerships may also offer opportunities for local businesses in terms of networking and trade missions and enhances the offer that Glasgow makes to investors and visitors.

Partnering with influential municipalities strengthens the voices of cities, ensuring that they can influence the climate crisis debate and deliver what’s needed. Glasgow in particular has a notable target of 2030 in reaching net zero. This will be crucial in helping the Scottish Government achieve its 2045 target and the UK target of 2050.

Leader of Glasgow City Council, Councillor Susan Aitken, said: “Cities are where the race to zero is won. Nation states pledge – but cities deliver.


“More than half of the global population lives in cities – and the United Nations expects that to grow to 68% in just the next 30 years. Cities are also, overwhelming, where much of our knowledge and skills can be found – they drive our national and international economies and they are also where you turn for ideas and innovation.


“All of this not only means our cities are responsible for the majority of global emissions, but also makes us particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Cities – like Glasgow, like Pittsburgh and like Santiago – can’t afford to wait.


“We are making common cause with cities across the globe with similar pasts and facing the same challenges as us – to have our voices heard, but also to learn from each other.


“There is a wealth of real practical knowledge, experience and expertise that we need to share if we are going to make a just transition to greener, more sustainable places to live and work.


“We need to be using these connections now and mobilise our involvement in city alliances towards taking action and influencing the climate change agenda.”


Pittsburgh Mayor, William Peduto, said: “While the Scottish connection to Pittsburgh has long been established, from its naming by a Scot, General John Forbes to industrialist and shared native son Andrew Carnegie, through our shared rise as industrial powerhouses the two cities have a deep connection.

“This connection has been strengthened in recent years as we’ve shared the challenges of industrial heritage, built a renewed strength through a shared resilience journey and now seek to collaborate through a sister cities arrangement as we work together, to address issues of climate change, health inequality and building more equitable prosperity.”

Mayor Felipe Alessandri, Mayor of Santiago, said: “We have a huge responsibility to lead the Santiago-Glasgow route between the two cities and from two hemispheres, being a beacon for the rest of the local governments of the planet towards COP26 but understanding that the climate emergency we are facing is the biggest challenge that humanity has.


“Cities must raise their ambition towards carbon neutrality by 2050 or less and send a message of hope to millions of people who expect from us a higher consciousness to live in a world; with less artificial intelligence and more human sensitivity.”

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