Scotland’s environmental media is currently awash with content and discourse relating to COP26, a global conference taking place this November. Whatever your view on the impacts of this event, it is undeniable that COP26 will bring international attention to the climate crisis. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has limited the possibility for in-person interviews, but I managed to get in contact with Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) via email. They gave a speedy and informative response, and have provided a concise set of answers to 6 crucial questions relating to November’s conference.
What is COP26, and why is it important?
COP26 is The Conference of the Parties, and this is the 26th one. The first was held in Berlin in 1995. It is incredibly important, for lots of reasons – and with each one, it becomes increasingly important. To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, global emissions must halve by 2030 and reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050. This provides a platform for us to work together to tackle the climate crisis.
Who are you, and what is your role at COP26?
I’m Patrick, a Climate Change Learning Co-Ordinator at Glasgow Science Centre. I’ve been helping to produce ‘Climate Conversations’ – a podcast which we are releasing prior to COP26 which explores different issues relating to the climate crisis. The climate change team at GSC are working really hard to provide and maintain Green events and opportunities throughout the city.
What is Glasgow Science Centre doing at COP26?
The Science Centre is playing a big part in COP26 – as part of the Green Zone, we are hosting a series of events, workshops, talks and shows, providing a place where everyone can engage in the discussion and explore climate science. It’s really exciting for such a high-profile event to come to GSC and we can’t wait to welcome everybody.
For you, what is the most exciting or interesting thing related to COP26?
The most exciting for me personally is to see the world coming together so that we can tackle this as a species, not just a country or a continent. It reminds me that we are part of something bigger.
What do you think COP26 will do for the UK and the wider world’s policies on climate change?
I think COP26 will definitely raise awareness of the reality of climate change in the UK. It’s an incredibly high-profile event, with lots of world leaders converging in Glasgow. This can only be a good thing – it’s so important that everybody understands that this will affect us all. I hope that after COP, we see legislation and policy brought in quickly to help us achieve net-zero, and those in positions of power start taking the issue more seriously, as the message I keep hearing from scientists is that we have to act now, not just ‘quickly’.
What can young people do to get involved with COP26?
Lots! Speaking on behalf of the Science Centre, we will be providing lots of events, workshops and online content that is accessible to everybody. We’d love to see you all there. I think it’s vital for young people to make their voices heard. Write to your MPs, MSPs, raise your concerns. Get involved in any youth groups or school clubs that are participating in COP26. Most importantly, it’s what you do to get involved and part of the conversation after COP26 – start researching ways you can live a greener lifestyle and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
It is clear to see the level of both local and wider involvement with COP26, and that Glasgow is ready to welcome world leaders to engage in some of the most important issues facing us. The message is distinct – ‘remember the impact you have; start conversations, make changes, contact those in charge, tackle this problem together’.
Change must be made here and now, and COP26 is an opportunity for our governments to make an actual, necessary, difference. We have great hope that this conference will be the catalyst to the vital shift in our policies and outlooks that we need to preserve our shared global future.