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Scotland’s commitment to tackling climate change

Journey to Change projection at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC).

In just over five months’ time Scotland will host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at Glasgow’s SEC, the largest event to be staged in the country with more than 30,000 delegates expected over 12 days.

The conference, which takes place 31st October – 12 November 2021, will unite more than 190 world leaders with negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Scotland has already shown its dedication to tackling climate change and is currently producing the equivalent of 90% of its electricity from renewable sources. By 2030 it has pledged to generate 50% of the country’s overall energy consumption from renewable sources and to almost decarbonise its entire energy system by 2050.

As part of its latest campaign, Journey to Change, which is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, VisitScotland Business Events wants to demonstrate the impact that business events can have in helping to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, including climate change, eradicating poverty and access to renewable energy sources in remote areas.

Green Glasgow
With ambitious plans to be one of the greenest cities in Europe, Glasgow is the perfect host for COP26. Glasgow has set a target for carbon neutrality by 2030 and is already ranked as the fourth most sustainable destination in the world in the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

In 2020, the city was awarded £6.3m in UK government funding to purchase 19 hydrogen-powered refuse trucks and to build a green refuelling station. This investment will mean that Glasgow will be home to the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen refuse vehicles.

In addition to this ScottishPower, as part of the Green Hydrogen for Scotland partnership, has submitted a planning application to build a green hydrogen facility close to the UK’s largest onshore windfarm in Whitlee, Glasgow.

Under the plans, submitted in April 2021, the facility will be the first project for ‘Green Hydrogen for Glasgow’ and is designed to provide carbon-free transport and clean air for communities across the city as well as helping support industrial hydrogen demand in the region. The project aims to supply hydrogen to the commercial market before 2023.

Sustainable Scotland
Hosting COP26 is an enormous opportunity for Scotland and provides a global platform to discuss and showcase the developments and ground-breaking research taking place across the country.

In 2010, the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI), hosted by the University of Edinburgh was created. The centre is now focusing on creating a resilient, thriving and climate neutral Scotland and wider world. ECCI collaborates with governments, businesses and academics to help facilitate interdisciplinary interactions across natural and social sciences, guiding research and its translation to promote a just and resilient transition to the post-carbon world.

Elsewhere, The Marine Conservation Society, which has its own dedicated office in Scotland, has utilised data gathered from its regular beach cleaning project, Beachwatch, to help campaign for many important policy changes in Scotland. Successes include the 5p carrier bag charge in 2014 and the ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds in 2019.

In the Scottish Highlands, charity Trees for Life has been working tirelessly to restore the Caledonian Forest for more than 28 years. In recent years, the charity has been helping and inspiring businesses to hit their CSR targets with its Corporate Groves programme. Businesses donate money to Tress for Life, which then plants trees on their behalf in the Highlands. Each business receives their own branded web page where they can track and add to their donations so staff, clients and other stakeholders can all be involved. To date, more than 110,000 trees have been planted through this portal.

The COP26 Universities Network
Ahead of COP26, more than 55 UK-based universities and research centres have united to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the conference.

The COP26 Universities Network’s mission is to ensure that the UK academic sector plays its role in delivering a successful COP26, getting all players on track to deliver a low-carbon, resilient world. This will be done through easing access to evidence and academic expertise for government, non-governmental organisations.

The network is actively developing activities and outputs across a range of key areas, such as public engagement, adaptation, innovation, and net-zero universities. This includes climate change briefings for government and other major stakeholders, with University of Edinburgh experts having already contributed to influential briefings on ‘Green Recovery’ and on ‘Just Transition’.

The COP26 Universities Network released a briefing in January that advised reducing emissions must be a priority for UK universities, but carbon offsetting can also play an important role in the transition to net-zero.

The briefing, developed with the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, provides guidance to support universities and colleges developing offsetting policies as part of their net-zero strategies.

COP26 will be a carbon-neutral conference and will meet the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sustainability requirements for the delivery of the conference as well as supporting Scotland’s commitment to decarbonise by 2050.

To discover more about Scotland’s Journey to Change visit: BusinessEvents.Scot