World leaders could attend Argyll climate change event

Council leader Robin Currie says 'we can all do something to support the planet and the resources on which we all depend to live'.

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Global leaders – potentially including US president Joe Biden, China’s president Xi Jinping and Pope Francis – could be on their way to Argyll later this year if council plans for an event to mark the Conference of the Parties (COP26) become reality.

Several hundred thousand delegates are expected to attend the global climate change conference at Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC) from November 1 to 12, subject to Covid-19 restrictions.

Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the conference was postponed due to the worldwide pandemic.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Climate Change Board put together a programme of activities to run alongside COP26, including:

  • An Argyll and Bute climate change virtual summit;
  • School visits to Glasgow’s SEC and Science Centre;
  • A workshop on agriculture and land use in partnership with Argyll and Bute National Farmers Union;
  • Raising further awareness of the council’s de-carbonisation plan, launched at the end of 2020.

This action plan was agreed by the council’s policy and resources committee when it met last Thursday, May 13.

At the meeting, councillors heard of plans for an event which would most likely be held in the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre or in Hermitage Park’s Passivhaus pavilion, chosen due to their proximity to Glasgow.

Council leader Robin Currie told the meeting: ‘I think there will be a day, should COP26 get the go-ahead, when the local authority hosts something. We are keen to do this, particularly in Helensburgh, because we are not far from Glasgow.

‘People attending face-to-face could easily go to Helensburgh and we could have a good showcase for people visiting the country. I am looking forward to developing that.’

Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council.

Councillor Alastair Redman, the authority’s policy lead for business, regeneration and commercial development and vice chairman of its climate change environmental action group, added: ‘I would certainly agree that with Helensburgh being a commuter town, if there is any benefit to Argyll and Bute we should make the most of it.

‘It does seem strange they have a conference talking about reducing climate change while flying world leaders on jets to one area, especially with Zoom calls taking place these days.

‘But Argyll and Bute should look to benefit from it and promote the constituency as best we can.’

In a statement released after the meeting, Councillor Currie said: ‘COP26 will generate worldwide interest so is a great opportunity to ask ourselves ‘what can I do?’ and ‘what can we do together?’

‘The council is already taking action. We have reduced our carbon emissions by 27 per cent over the past five years and our de-carbonisation plan sets out actions planned across council services.

‘It’s important we use this global event as a catalyst for building on this, for the council and the area.

‘As well as taking the initial actions we agreed at the policy and resources committee meeting, the council will be looking for opportunities to work with our partners to deliver climate change activities across Argyll and Bute.’