The Scottish Context

What is the significance of COP26 taking place in Scotland?

After the UK successfully won the bid to host COP26, it will be held this November in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Glasgow was chosen by the UK to be the host city for COP26 due to its commitments to sustainability, having recently been awarded the status of a Global Green City, it has an ambitious target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Glasgow City Council also highlights that it was chosen because of its first-rate facilities and prior experience in hosting world class events. 

This is the first year that a devolved nation will host COP and therefore there is no precedent to indicate what this could mean, or how it may impact the host (the UK) as a whole. For more information on this, Dr Darrick Evensen gives an excellent summary on Scotland’s role at COP26 as a devolved nation

Scotland has very ambitious emission reduction targets, like committing to reach Net Zero by 2045, 5 years earlier than the rest of the UK, as well as some of the highest levels of public awareness of climate change in the world. Therefore, some have suggested that the UK might be using Scotland as a positive example to showcase the UK’s commitment to climate policies to other nations. 

Professor David Reay also highlights that Scotland is pioneering an approach to tackling climate change that goes beyond just committing to Net Zero and cutting carbon emissions, by also placing emphasis on a Just Transition, that protects livelihoods, and respects & protects nature and biodiversity too. 

Listen here for a more in depth explanation from David Reay on the social implications of achieving a Just Transition in Scotland

Using the “buzz” around COP26 to generate more engagement with climate policy in Scotland

As COP26 is taking place in person in Scotland, there is an exciting opportunity for it to really be seen as the Scottish COP, where people across the country can get involved at a community level. Across our guide there are more specific examples about how young people can get involved at an individual, local and national level. 

Professor Elizabeth Bomberg also shares her insight on the importance of campaigning at different levels across society

As Scotland has arguably a more consistent track record on climate governance and commitments to climate change adaptation and mitigation, COP26 can act as a hub for many of the fantastic civil society organisations and local movements to come together across the country, either in the city of Glasgow in the Green Zone, or streaming online. 

 Hear more fantastic insight from Professor David Reay on why it is significant that COP26 is being held in Scotland here

 Dr Darrick Evensen also notes that in the immediate months after COP26, there will likely be a honeymoon window, where pressure can be placed on the Scottish government, and the UK government to live up to the goals and commitments they made in the negotiations. Particularly in light of the disruption that COVID-19 had on pre-COP activities and preparations, with events taking place virtually or being postponed throughout 2021, there will be further opportunities post-COP to perpetuate the “buzz” to generate further engagement with climate policy and commitments. 

 To listen to Dr Darrick Evensen’s discussion on COP26 climate engagement in Scotland, click here: 

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