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All Roads Lead to Glasgow for COP26…

21/02/20

…and Glasgow’s faring very well in conversations about the critical climate talks – but it’s going to be a bumpy journey to get to November 2020

All eyes on Glasgow

Between October and December 2019 – over the course of COP25 in Madrid – Glasgow was mentioned in a staggering 21% of all comments relating to this year’s COP26, with 97% of the conversation being either positive or neutral in sentiment.  

Source: Material, Sustainable Material Insight Team, powered by Brandwatch

Our last COP blog posited that Scotland looks set to play positively on a world stage, and – so far – this still looks to be the case with only 3% of COP26 content referring to Glasgow registering as negative in sentiment.  

Furthermore, a quick dig into negative content referring to Glasgow highlights that the majority refers to the “bitter disappointment” and failure of COP25 (and previous COPs).  

From Brandwatch data gathered between 1st Oct 2019 to 20th Jan 2020 we were also able to determine that: 

  • +313% new international authors entered the conversation about COP26
  • There was a 425% uplift in mentions of Scotland and Glasgow 
  • “COP26 in Glasgow” was a top trending topic at 4 points over the 4-month period
  • 51% of content was generated via the US, 20% via the UK, 5% via Australia and 2% Canada 
  • 6% more males were involved in the conversation, however the topics discussed were very gender neutral
Source: Material, Sustainable Material Insight Team, powered by Brandwatch

Scotland leads with ambition

COP26 is a UK Government-hosted conference being held in Glasgow which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon views as a huge opportunity for Glasgow and for Scotland to show the leadership that we are taking on climate change and to bring the world here to forge ahead in meeting that challenge.”  

And in keeping with this leadership ethos, MSPs are set to vote a new bill through the Scottish Parliament which aims to increase the reduction of our country’s carbon emissions from 80% by 2050 to 90% by 2045 (BBC, May 2019). 

However, this progress – and the progress of other nations who are seeking to pledge greater decarbonisation commissions during COP26’s decisive Ambition Year – is unlikely to come close on a global scale to what is needed to meet the original objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

COP25, held in Madrid in December 2019 has been considered by many to have been a failure.

Caused mostly by polarisation and international deadlock. A fundamental “erosion of the cooperative spirit forged in Paris in 2015” has “resulted in loss of trust among countries”, as the big emitters continue to refuse to commit to more ambitious climate action programmes and policies  (Economic Times, 20th Jan 2020).

Progress is critical

The 184 countries which voluntarily pledged to the 2015 Paris Agreement all agreed to NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) which would cumulatively aim to cap global warming at 1.5 ºC.

These NDCs have been globally monitored by The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) since then.  However, the tracker states that [even] “if all governments achieved their Paris Agreement commitments the world will likely warm 3.0ºC – twice the 1.5 ºC limit they agreed in Paris.”

COP26 is an ‘Ambition Year’, meaning that all 184 countries are expected to attend (bringing a total audience of around 40,000) and present more ambitious plans to step up their climate actions.  Given the tracked Country Ratings charts – and the reversal in mood, collaboration and concensus at COP25 – its looking like a bumpy journey ahead.

What seems to be emerging is a situation where the pledges and efforts of seriously committed and ambitious countries at COP26 will, at most, merely mitigate a portion of the damage continuing to be done by the highly and critically insufficient countries.  Because according to a new UNEP Emissions Gap Report released for Madrid, “to achieve the 1.5c limit, countries have to increase their commitments five-fold, starting in 2020”.

And the countdown to #COP26Glasgow is on!

The host nation and the COP president have a key responsibility in relation to framing, driving and mediating international negotiations at COP26.  

Yet the UK’s COP President Claire O’Neill was sacked in Jan 31 and replaced by Alok Sharma (MP for Reading West) on 13th February “with just nine months to prepare UK for Global Climate Talks”.  

Former president Claire O’Neill had gathered an admirable assembly of previous COP presidents to advise her in light of the abject failure of COP25.  Whether Alok Sharma will carry on with this approach is not yet known, but one thing is clear; the burden of responsibility now sitting on Alok Sharma’s shoulders is considerable.  

We will continue to follow the twists and turns of the road to #COP26Glasgow, what this means for businesses and what it means for Scotland. From the content of climate deniers to Scottish and UK consumer perspectives on #ClimateAction and the #ClimateEmergency. 

In the meantime, if you share our opinions or interests please give us a shout for a chat via kirstie@wearematerial.co.uk.  

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