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Glasgow pushes forward on tackling climate change with 100 days to COP26

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With 100 days until eyes of the world looks to Glasgow as the place where action to save the planet will be agreed, the city is progressing with its plans to welcome world leaders, reach net zero carbon by 2030 and secure its legacy after hosting the event.

As one of the biggest events ever held in the UK, in climate change terms, COP26 is the most significant event of its kind since COP21 in 2015 which led to the “Paris Agreement” – a legally binding international agreement that set out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

As host city, Glasgow is already using the arrival of COP to add momentum to its own ambitions and drive collective action from partners.

As part of its ongoing commitment to grow a cleaner, greener economy and society, Leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken today announced Glasgow’s participation in the Thriving Cities Initiative (TCI) – a project with C40 Cities, a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver urgent action on climate change and funded by KR Foundation, a Danish-based organisation that supports non-profit activities with positive impacts on climate and the environment.

Through the pilot, work will take place amongst communities, businesses and academic institutions to foster new policy and governance, community activity and business models to reduce overall levels of consumption and create an economy where everyone is given an opportunity to thrive without harming other people or the planet.

Regarding the announcement, Cllr Aitken said “Glasgow is committed to ensuring that our transition to a more sustainable and resilient economy will create good jobs and opportunities for Glaswegians. A Just Transition has to put citizens and communities first in our recovery efforts whilst simultaneously addressing the climate emergency.

“As the host city for COP26, we must deliver a local legacy where all Glaswegians can lead healthier, fairer and more prosperous lives without harming other people or the planet. A Just Transition is particularly pertinent in Glasgow, given the memories and legacies of our post-industrial past.

“We look forward to participating in the Thriving Cities Initiative and the support it can provide in working with local businesses, communities and academic institutions to a create greener and equitable economy and communities.”

In developing the right policies, engaging the key actors, and transforming mindsets, the initiative seeks to support Glasgow in co-creating solutions that provide economic opportunity and improved quality of life for Glaswegians who face the greatest disparities, reduce emissions from local businesses, and support low-carbon lifestyles.

By supporting Glasgow’s existing plans, the initiative will be one part of the wider legacy of COP26, helping Glasgow achieve its ambitious climate goals whilst maximising local benefit. COP26 offers a unique opportunity for Glasgow to push itself harder to achieve its own ambitions on sustainability and to engage its communities in an ongoing conversation about our climate.

The nations of the world will aim to re-set a shared planetary trajectory onto a safer, greener path at COP26 – and thereby add Glasgow’s name to that of Paris when relating to climate progress. The legacy of that ‘Glasgow Agreement’ to the city cannot be underestimated, securing for the long-term its credentials as a city with the ambition to be Europe’s most sustainable, with a just transition, innovation and skills at the heart of its policy.

To date, promising progress has been made for Glasgow to reach its goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2030. The appointment of a Green Economy Manager and development of a green investment prospectus are key to acquiring the billions in capital that the city needs to match its climate ambitions and make real change in the lives of communities, businesses and institutions.

As well as the enhanced global connections being made in the lead up to COP26, the city is currently seeing the installation of a network of sensors on school roofs which will monitor greenhouse gas emissions and air quality. 

As a direct legacy of COP26, this partnership between the Council, University of Strathclyde and Universities of Berkeley and Stanford in California represents a total of $250,000 of equipment provided free to the city which will help to test and improve local interventions to reduce emissions and improve air quality for all Glaswegians.

Glasgow’s story is, in many ways, the world’s story. It charts a course from the carbon-intensive industries of the past to the low carbon and sustainable developments of the present. More than half the world’s population now live in cities, so the solutions to the global climate emergency will have to be delivered through its cities.

As the recovery and renewal process from the pandemic begins, Glasgow looks to continue the legacy from its hosting of the climate conference as an exemplar city for Scotland and the UK, making a tangible reality out of the ambition for a green recovery.

With 100 days to go to COP26, the city and partners are also continuing with the Get Ready Glasgow campaign, to help businesses and residents plan ahead and prepare to welcome delegates and visitors.

In addition to providing information on how the city will host a safe and secure in-person event, the Get Ready Glasgow website will also keep people up to date on the latest traffic and travel advice and how partners plan to keep the city open for business and moving during COP26.

A recent digital engagement event saw more than 250 businesses hear from the event organisers and a new business readiness guide has just been produced and is available to download from the site.

Coupled with this, a Citizens Assembly has been established with Glasgow residents to help determine their priorities for ensuring that the COP26 Climate Conference drives positive change in their lives.

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