CoP26 – What Now?
Alison McRae, Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (GCOC) gave a
rattling good presentation on the part it played in the CoP26 Conference, what it
achieved and its continuing role in seeking to promote and develop the Circular
Economy with Glasgow’s businesses and beyond i.e. promoting production and
consumption which involves reusing, refurbishing and recycling materials and
products to save the planet’s resources. By way of context, Alison introduced
members to the concept of ‘Earth Overshoot Day’; i.e. the day it is estimated that
human consumption exceeds the earth’s capacity to replace these resources within
a year; 25.12 in 1971 and currently 28.7. CoP26’s message is that we only have five
years to slow down global warming with the ambition of stopping the temperature
rising more than 1.5degrees.
Human consumption of goods has dramatically increased. This is due to global
population growth and economic growth and the greatly increased capacity of
modern production. It is estimated that 91% of the material taken out the ground is
wasted. Recognition of this fact proved to be a game changer for Alison and she
was converted to the importance of the circular economy. Switching to renewable
energy is part of the story of reducing waste. However, this will only address 55% of
global emissions with 45% associated with industry, agriculture and development.
Here the GCOC (the oldest English language speaking Chamber of Commerce in
the world, established in 1783), saw an opportunity at CoP 26 to play a key
stakeholder role to support and enable actions to tackle Climate Change in the City
and use its networks to work with global businesses and showcasing the city’s work.
Building on the 7 years of their Circular Glasgow Initiative, working partnership with
Zero Waste Scotland, Glasgow City Council and Circle Economy in the Netherlands
to support the transition to a circular economy moving from our current linear model,
put the Chamber in good stead for when the city hosted COP26.
CoP26 has led to many outcomes which will have a lasting legacy including the
Glasgow Climate Pact and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ).
GCOC now has a network of Circular Glasgow ambassadors supporting the team to
provide practical support to businesses in Glasgow to transition towards Net Zero via
innovation and future proofing. GCOC will now deliver Conference of Business to
represent business action with these Glasgow climate pacts through its local and
British Chambers of Commerce UK and International networks in the run up to the
next significant CoP event: COP31.
Alison covered far more ground in her talk than can be covered here including many
international exemplars of Net Zero innovation e.g. 3D Printing provides the
opportunity for local production even if to overseas designs. The audience got the
message – the climate change ‘clock is ticking’ and it’s time that the world stopped
‘sleep walking’ into global warming as referenced by UN Secretary General Antonio
Guetteres. GCOC is doing its bit to move from ‘less bad, to do more good’ for a
sustainable economy and the benefit of future generations!
While members took the positives from Alison’s talk in the lively Q &S session it was
clear from discussion that whatever we could do as individuals, there is a major role
to be played by government which the public must influence. Thus members were
mindful of the challenges of insulating their homes such as replacing gas boilers with
heat pumps. However, the lack of clarity allied to a realistic government strategy to
deliver the transition to net zero by 2045 as it affected the man in the street, was a
major concern. This was a thought provoking discussion and clearly fuel for future
reflection on the way ahead. Thanks, Alison.