City businesses are signed up for climate action - Liz McAreavey

The eyes of the world are now focused on Scotland as our small nation hosts COP26, the UN’s Conference on Climate Change – an event that many have described as our world’s last best chance to tackle our shared global environmental challenge.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st November 2021, 7:00 am
Liz McAreavey is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
Liz McAreavey is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

And the Emissions Gap Report just published by the UN sounds an alarm that more – much more – needs to be done if we are to keep the rise in global temperatures to less than 1.5C this century. On our present course – even with 120 nations pledging varying degrees of action – scientists estimate we could see a rise of 2.7C with catastrophic consequences.

So … eyes on Glasgow, the host city, to see what the global leaders and experts gathering and meeting until 12 November can achieve. But one message already rings out loud and clear – everyone has a role to play. Every single person on earth can play their part by looking at how they can reduce their own carbon footprint.

Scotland has been chosen to host this vital summit because of the ambitious carbon targets we have set, to be net zero carbon by 2045. Scotland’s Capital, our own Edinburgh, has set an even more ambitious target of 2030 but to get there requires an enormous collaborative effort involving local and national government, the public sector, business, and citizens.

COP26 presents a unique opportunity for Edinburgh to harness momentum and shine a light on bold and ambitious work already under way, on innovations we are leading, and on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Businesses are playing a prominent role in the drive to meet these targets and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has been asked by City of Edinburgh Council to pull together and showcase our commercial community’s response to the challenge. Our own activity culminates this week with the COP26 Edinburgh Summit, which runs on Wednesday and Thursday at the Dovecot Studios.

The COP26 Edinburgh Summit will bring leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs together to connect and be inspired to take climate action. Over the two days we will hear from a range of local and international speakers who will share their insights and stories on their transition to net-zero.

We’ll also host a series of panel discussions to explore the challenges and opportunities around meeting our net-zero target of 2030 and to debate the policy environment needed to achieve a just transition to a greener, fairer economy.

The event is open to all online and will be streamed live via our YouTube channel (the live event is full). We expect a range of delegates to attend – from corporate directors to entrepreneurs, public sector representatives to third sector leaders and young people. We will come together with the shared ambition of working towards a net-zero economy for the city.

More information on the summit is available at the Edinburgh Supporting COP26 – Towards Net Zero website at launched by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council to highlight and promote the Capital’s ambitious target to be net zero carbon by 2030.

It is really heartening to see that Edinburgh is playing a leading role. Our universities are in the van of research, our banks are helping drive environmental change by targeting “green finance.” Our infrastructure businesses are pivoting away from fossil fuels and leading the charge to renewable energy. Scotland’s farmers are moving to more sustainable practices and buying local will play a vital role in reducing the carbon footprint of our daily lives.

Businesses want to play their part in the changes we need. It makes sense for the world, and so it must make sense for business. Consumers want change – all of the research shows that sustainability is increasingly a key driver for buying decisions.

COP26 provides all of us in Scotland with an opportunity to show our collective determination to take a real lead in this issue, and to do it in a way that will encourage other nations to follow.

Liz McAreavey is Chief Executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce