COP26 can harness passion of the young

24 September 2021


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

When it comes to young people and the climate crisis most people will think of Greta Thunberg. She has advocated that no one is too small to make a difference and has certainly captured the imagination of so many. 

As host city for COP26, it is important that we harness the passion and interest of our young people into something which would actually serve a longer term purpose. Firstly, because we need to solve the challenges of climate change and engage the future workforce with our business community to help think about how we solve these issues. But there is also a practical impact as we will need to build industries that create innovative solutions and technologies and there is an opportunity to really mould the minds of our young people to get ready for these roles. 

We have been engaging with our business community through DYW Glasgow and Circular Glasgow for over five years now and we have seen the significant interest from businesses across all sectors looking to both support our young people into the workplace and to tackle the climate challenge. 

Our vision is to leave an educational legacy on the back of the highly anticipated COP26 negotiations. My Climate Path has been created by our DYW Glasgow team, alongside those of Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire & West, supported by Glasgow Chamber and funded by the Scottish Government through the Young Person’s Guarantee. It will show real pathways into the world of work with businesses which are addressing the climate challenge, and will bridge the gap between a desire to embrace the interest of our young people and showing how they can make a genuine difference in a real and practical way.

Earlier adopters, such as Scottish Leather Group, who have been progressing a zero waste strategy for decades are now winning business on the back of their almost entirely circular business models and have paved the way for this shift. This week at the UN General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Boris Johnston MP declared that ‘future generations will judge us on what we achieve in the coming months’. That almost certainly is the case. 

As world leaders focus on getting the commitments in place to realise these global targets, we will be inspiring and informing our young people. Climate Heroes from our business community will go into schools and show how their business is adapting, the kinds of roles they can expect to see, and the skills and knowledge required through work experience. With Class Of Your Own, some 500 young people will discover real world applications of STEM subjects and have the chance to learn about potential career pathways in construction by designing a net zero McDonald’s restaurant. There will also be opportunities to work with Young Enterprise Scotland to take part in a circular economy challenge designing a new product or service where everything has value. These are just a few examples of what will be experienced through our schools. 

This is just the beginning, but it certainly paves the way for the next generation to engage in the biggest global challenge of our time, and allows our businesses to be assured that the right skills for their future business models are in the pipeline. 

As we look ahead next week to our COP26 partners in Milan who are hosting Youth4Climate, the message from some of our city’s young people is to think about the future, think about your children, give our young people the best start in life and produce good jobs for them. My Climate Path certainly aims to do just that.

Visit the My Climate Path website here.

This article was first published in The Herald on Wednesday 22 September 2021