Glasgow and London-based sustainable business organisations partner ahead of COP26

Pictured: LWARB chief executive Wayne Hubbard and GCOC's senior director Alison McRae

Under the partnership, the two organisations will collectively work to raise business awareness of the efforts already being made in London and Glasgow to shift away from linear models of consumption. Best-practice case studies from across the public and private sectors will be spotlighted under a new communications and engagement campaign targeting businesses of all sizes and sectors.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (GCOC) and London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) will also provide businesses with practical advice and learnings from previous and current projects, and offer channels for interested businesses to network with each other.

The organisations said in a statement that the decision to forge the partnership was, in part, down to the fact that both London and Glasgow are now working towards net-zero plans – the former for 2050, the latter for 2030 – and that businesses now need support to play their part in the low-carbon transition.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, shifting energy systems to prioritise renewables and minimise waste would address 55% of global emissions – but that bringing the remaining 45% to net-zero will ultimately require a sea-change in the way humanity takes, makes and disposes of materials.

“We believe that adopting the principles of the circular economy is one of the biggest means of stopping the temperature rising by more than 1.5C,” GCOC’s senior director Alison McRae said.

“Developing further relationships with London-based organisations will bring innovative ideas to Glasgow and vice versa, inspiring new business models which will future proof organisations as we shift towards a more sustainable economy. This will help to enable our city to grow with a competitive advantage.”

“The partnership will continue to build confidence within the business community surrounding circular business models, with a network of advice, ideas and support available on both ends.”

All change for COP26

The partnership, called the BIG Partnership, has been announced amid a hugely busy week of climate-related news for Glasgow.

In his cabinet reshuffle on Thursday (13 February), Prime Minister Boris Johnson named former International Development Minister Alok Sharma as COP26 President, two weeks after former Energy Minister Claire O’Neill was removed from the post.

Sharma was additionally appointed Business Secretary at BEIS, taking over from Andrea Leadsom.

Elsewhere, Sajid Javid unexpectedly quit as Chancellor just weeks after promising a “green” Budget in April, opening the role to Rishi Sunak, while George Eustice was promoted to Environment Secretary, ousting Theresa Villiers.

These moves all come after Johnson said he wanted to completely re-design Westminster’s COP26 delivery team. In a strongly-worded letter penned after she was fired, O’Neill accused Johnson of failing to get preparations for the Conference underway rapidly enough, or in a holistic manner.

All eyes across the UK’s green economy are now on Number 10, awaiting Johnson’s updated plans for the conference.

Earlier this month, he confirmed the UK would use the summit to urge other nations to set net-zero targets and responded to calls for stronger domestic policies by moving the coal phase-out deadline forward to 2024, and the ban on new petrol and diesel cars forward to 2035. At a Green Alliance event this week, Conservative Party representatives confirmed more domestic policy changes will be announced in the run-up to November.

But tensions remain, not only around Westminster’s plans to deliver COP26, but around where it will be held.

Earlier this week, Government officials told The Financial Times that discussions were underway with ExCel London, in case a “fallback option” was needed for a venue. The publication says it has received claims that costs for the conference, which will attract more than 30,000 visitors over its 10-day duration, are spiralling and preparation efforts from Westminster “chaotic”.

Scottish officials have said the UK Government has been slow to respond to the logistical challenges of hosting the summit, but are ultimately keen to keep Glasgow as the event “hub”.

In a statement sent to the BBC on Thursday, the Number 10 press secretary said talks with ExCel London amount to nothing more than “standard contingency planning”.

Sarah George

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