News & Blog

COP26 boost puts climate back on the agenda

Written by: Alison McRae, Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

3rd June 2020

It was some well-timed and much needed good news to confirm the rescheduled dates for Glasgow to host COP26 in November 2021.

Clearly there is many a mountain to climb before then with the ongoing COVID-19 public health safety issues, in parallel with economic recovery plans. Amidst this, business survival is of course our absolute priority.

However as we look further ahead in Glasgow with the Glasgow Economic Recovery Group, chaired by the Leader of Glasgow City Council, and across Scotland, with Benny Higgins’ Advisory Group’s work on Economic Recovery, it is clear we will most certainly be revisiting the emergency we were previously focused on before we had to address the crisis we now find ourselves in. That is of course the climate emergency.

Glasgow has already nailed its colours to the mast, setting possibly one of the most challenging targets globally for a city: to be net zero by 2030. COP26 next year will assert a punctuation point in this timeline and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce will continue to advocate the benefits of moving to a circular economy to assist with this ambition.

It is clear that the current linear systems will not support solutions to our global challenges and the circular economy presents a fundamental economic model shift, which means rethinking and transforming full value chains to create waste-less and restorative systems.

Many of our businesses have been quick to embrace circular principles, in part due to our partnership with Zero Waste Scotland, Glasgow City Council and Circle Economy in the Netherlands. Our focus at Glasgow Chamber, through our Circular Glasgow initiative, has been on raising awareness of how to unlock innovation and to future proof business by pursuing circular models, whilst Glasgow City Council is currently finalising its plans for a city-wide circular economy route map.

Most recently our partnership work with Accenture and Dell caught the attention of a wide range of senior influencers in the city through our 1783 President’s Network. It was our first foray into engaging with the corporate market and Peter Lacy’s, Accenture Strategy Senior Managing Director, insights from working with over 1,500 businesses globally absolutely demonstrated the business case for embracing a circular economy approach. We are in unprecedented times and this presents an even greater opportunity to secure a sustainable future and create competitive advantage for businesses, with a $4.5 trillion value to be unlocked globally by 2030.

However, for a full circular economy transition to occur it needs to be mainstreamed.

Leadership and genuine collaboration will be key to help make this happen across Governments, academia and business: something where Glasgow has a fantastic track record.  It will need all the actors on the stage in the economy to play their role, including investors and policy makers, helping to remove barriers and create new solutions to overcome linear structures and systems. This could include, for example, incentivising circular behaviour through taxation and steering regulations towards practices that yield highest value of waste and scarce materials.

London has been embracing this approach for some time and the London Waste and Recycling Board is currently hosting Circular Economy Week with a comprehensive programme on cities and sectors, sharing insights from the host city, Barcelona, Sao Paolo, Toronto and Glasgow. Our Circular Glasgow partnership with Circular London seeks to build knowledge transfer and business to business relationships through virtual trade missions to enhance momentum and scale.

We want to work with our networks to help build an ecosystem which sees investment in disruptive growth opportunities to create a circular advantage.

If ever there was a time to do that, it is now.

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