Glasgow lined up to host COP26 climate change summit

The Scottish Events campus where the UN's COP26 climate conference will be held

The Scottish city has been chosen as the central location for the UN’s 26th climate change conference, which will take place for approximately two weeks in late 2020.

The announcement comes after a joint bid was put forward with Italy to host COP26. While Turkey is still in the running to host the conference, the UK remains a clear favourite to secure it.

If the UK does indeed secure the talks, they will be hosted at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow – rather than in the capital London or a regional English city – in a bid to boost Scottish businesses and drive investment to the region.

Last month the new prime minister Boris Johnson made former Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry, the UK-nominated president for COP26.

MAking the Glasgow announcement today (9 August), Perry said: “As one of the UK’s most sustainable cities, with a record for hosting high-profile international events, Glasgow is the right choice to showcase the UK’s commitment to the environment.

“In 2020, world-leaders will come together to discuss how to protect our planet and set the direction for the years to come.”

Global spotlight

COP26 is widely seen as the first major test of the UK Government’s net-zero carbon targets and its support for the climate emergency, and five years on from the Paris Agreement it will also be an opportunity for the international community to consider its efforts to scale-up carbon emission reductions and make new pledges.

The SEC, which sits just outside of Glasgow city centre, will host 30,000 delegates from around the world, including climate change experts, business leaders as well as citizens from across the UK. It will be the largest summit ever hosted in the UK, with some 200 world-leaders expected to attend for the final weekend of the talks.

The conference programme will include events for young people, and the Government aims to work with the local community throughout COP26, following a year of proposed climate action, including specific events in regions and cities across all four nations of the UK.

“Vote of confidence”

Today’s announcement has been broadly welcomed by environmentalists and climate change experts. The chief executive of the Climate Change Commission, Chris Stark, said on Twitter: “Absolutely brilliant news for Glasgow (the best wee city in the world). Delighted to see my home city host COP26 next year. All the more reason to get cracking on some world leading policies to match the Net-Zero ambition.”

Deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, David McDonald said on the same platform: “Amazing news!! Glasgow will host the UNFCCC COP26 summit on global climate change. A major vote of confidence in the work of the Glasgow Convention Bureau team & the many years they have spent building our reputation as a great and welcoming host. #NextStopGlasgow“.

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon also welcomed the news, saying that it would bring increased scrutiny on the actions of the Scottish Government in tackling the Climate Emergency. “While the First Minister has declared a climate emergency the real test in the runup to this conference will be about action, not words,” Dixon said.

Christian Aid’s Head of Policy, Dr Alison Doig, who was born in Glasgow, added: “Hosting the UN climate summit is a huge responsibility, as we are already seeing the very real impacts of the climate crisis.  This will be the biggest summit of its kind since the Paris agreement was signed in France in 2015, marking the point that the accord comes into force.

James Evison

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