This autumn, Glasgow plays host to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, amid an understandable amount of fanfare. The event, known to one and all as COP26, is the first of its kind to be held in the UK. There have been many previous incarnations of this hugely important get-together – more than 26, in fact, but that’s another story – but given the current environmental disasters that we’re facing, this surely has to be the most crucial one so far.
A number of important initiatives have resulted from previous conferences, including the Kyoto Protocol (1997), the Montreal Action Plan (2005) and the Paris Agreement (2015). Advocates of such meetings point to these initiatives as proof of their success, but there are many critics who see them as lacking significant action and, ultimately, not doing enough to protect the planet. Time will tell if Glasgow is seen as a watershed moment in the battle.
The list of world leaders due to attend reads like a Who’s Who of the truly powerful. Forget Instagram, these people are influencers capable of doing far more than a so-called celebrity eating a bar of chocolate in return for a kick-back from the manufacturer. The great and the good at COP26 have global reach, they affect billions of people and millions of businesses on a daily basis and they can, if the impulse is strong enough, do something tangible and immediate for the environment.
No Pope, no party!
Leaders from most of the world’s nations will be in attendance, although there is some significance in the ones who won’t. China’s Xi Jinping has decided to give it a miss, as has Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Pope won’t be there either, although in May it was announced the new Popemobile would be all-electric, so perhaps he’s already doing his bit.
In line with the need to reduce carbon emissions, conference attendees will have an all-electric fleet of Land Rovers on hand, ready to transport them from A to B as and when necessary. As is always the case when the most important movers and shakers get together, there will be plenty of side-meetings and informal discussions taking place away from the main venue, the impressive SEC Centre on the banks of the Clyde. The venue is part of the Scottish Event Campus, and in the weeks after COP26 it will host shows by Fatboy Slim, Steps, Gary Barlow and, you couldn’t make this up, The Muppets. Make of that what you will.
The cars, sourced from existing UK fleets in order to keep that all-important carbon footprint to a minimum, will include the highly anticipated SUV Jaguar I-PACE, with a range of 292 miles and the ability to go from nought to sixty in just 4.5 seconds. Impressive though these figures might be, it’s difficult to imagine Greta Thunberg popping out for a deep-fried Mars Bar behind the wheel of one of these babies.
The perfect way to use up that old chip fat
Unfortunately, the sudden influx of somewhere around 240 fully-electric cars from Jaguar Land Rover will put an immediate strain on the number and availability of charging points. The authorities have been moving generators to the city from other parts of Scotland to ensure none of the vehicles are left stranded mid-journey due to a lack of power. Rumours that these chargers would be, somewhat embarrassingly, powered by diesel are apparently not true. They will be powered by recycled cooking oil instead. Reader: feel free to insert your own punchline here if you want.
The official COP26 bus service, designed to transport delegates and others around the city, will consist of a fleet of 22 all-electric vehicles. Capable of running for up to 160 miles on one charge, these buses will serve as a template for what other cities can do in the future. Bus routes lend themselves perfectly to the push for more EVs on our roads, transporting significant numbers of people quickly, efficiently and, of course, cleanly. Coventry and Oxford are set to have all-electric fleets soon, and in the coming years many more will follow. The pressure on manufacturers of the vehicles themselves and those who supply EV components and fasteners is going to increase enormously.
The attention of the world will be on Glasgow in November, and decisions could be made – let’s hope so – that will have a positive, long-lasting impact on our relationship with the planet that gives us life. It’s expected that somewhere around 30,000 delegates from 197 countries will be in attendance. Add in security personnel, observers, journalists, interested hangers-on and, of course, protestors, and you can see why the city will be very different indeed for a couple of weeks. At the moment, the UN’s fight against climate change is a work in progress, but if they need to sway the public more it might be time to seek out the type of B2B PR Sussex business owners can rely on.
Now all that’s left for me to say is: Over to you, Glasgow, let’s build a better world.