Climate laggards to be banned from booking Glasgow’s public venues for COP26

Glasgow City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has outlined plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2030

At a full council meeting earlier this week, the motion, which was first flagged in April, passed unanimously.

The motion requires the Council to “take steps to ensure that venues and community spaces [it either owns or operates] are not used for the benefit of those who deny, ignore or wilfully contribute to catastrophic climate change for the duration of COP26”. The conference will run from 31 October until 12 November.

The Council has published eligibility criteria for all organisations looking to book such spaces during the conference. Large businesses are required to have either set science-based targets for reducing emissions, pledged to set science-based targets for reducing emissions or have joined the UN’s Race to Zero Campaign.

Race to Zero notably updated its own eligibility criteria earlier this year, in a bid to prevent misleading claims from gaining verification. The campaign is not, for example, taking applications from large fossil fuel firms.

Small or medium-sized businesses (SMEs) applying to the Council for venue bookings will need to join the Race to Zero via the UK Government’s online SME Climate Hub.

As well as meeting these climate requirements, applicants should have no convictions for major breaches of environmental law; have no reported violations of human rights laws and not be under investigation for violation of sanctions upheld by the UN’s Security Council. Additionally, they must not have been subjected to investigations or sanctions by any UN member state for corruption or fraud within the past three years.

At the Council meeting, it was confirmed that applications would be “decided upon soon”.

Labour & Co-operative councillor Eva Murray, who proposed the motion, said: “We understand COP26 is set to be the most important climate conference the world has ever seen and will attract people from across the globe.

She added: “It is our hope that those spaces will be used during COP26 to showcase and give space to grassroots organisations and activists from Glasgow as well as those who may be travelling from other parts of the world.”

Green Party councillor Christy Mearns seconded the motion.

Some green groups have been calling for the eligibility criteria to go further, expressly banning fossil fuel majors and others. Glasgow Calls out Polluters is also keen to see a ban on businesses with links to fossil fuel majors and financial firms that have supported the fossil fuel industry. The group has previously criticised the UK Government’s decision to select SSE, National Grid and NatWest Group as Principal Partners for COP26.

“Without clear and strong criteria, big polluters will once again use publicly-owned spaces for their illicit self-promotion,” Glasgow calls out Polluters member Scott Tully said. “We will be watching how this progresses very closely and will make sure that we hold our council to account.”

For the latest on how the UK Government, other nations, and the private sector, are preparing for COP26, read the latest edition of edie’s COP26 Action Tracker.

 Sarah George

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