Glasgow Climate Week to drive innovation and youth engagement for a sustainable future

30 April 2024

Alison at MSS

By Alison McRae, Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

It’s hard to believe it was nearly a year ago when Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council declared that the week of the 13 May 2024 would be the first Glasgow Climate week at our inaugural Congress of Business (COB). COB is a core part of our COP26 legacy to inspire action across businesses in their progress to net zero, building on various Glasgow named pacts.

Working across our extensive networks we will deliver this from Glasgow as a hybrid offer, on behalf of our own regional community alongside the Scottish and British Chambers of Commerce business communities across Scotland, the UK and globally and in partnership with the University of Glasgow.

Timed to land at the mid-way point between COPs, we view this as a pacer tool where we build on the momentum from business and also cities as the key constants in the transition to net zero and a circular economy. It seems that this is more important now than ever as we are amidst ongoing changing political landscapes and targets.

This year we will be hosting COB on the 14 May in SWG3, the day before All-Energy takes place in the SEC. All Energy is the UK’s largest renewable energy conference and will attract some 10,000 delegates to the city during the course of the two-day event, where the focus is on experiencing the latest products and learning about all forms of renewable and low carbon energy from leading experts. It also incorporates ‘Dcarbonise’ – Scotland’s only dedicated event looking at improving energy efficiency and decreasing costs for built environment and transport. Part of the rationale for declaring Glasgow Climate Week was to enhance the activity for delegates coming into the city and encouraging them to stay longer, as well as engaging the wider regional community. In addition, of course there is the opportunity to build on relationships garnered through COP28 to encourage investment through projects which will enable progress to net zero targets.

The business community has stepped up with a suite of opportunities as a result.

COB24 will once again focus on the importance of investment in driving decarbonisation and the transition to net zero alongside a spotlight on innovation in the built environment. Moderated by Professor Greg Clark CBE, we will be hearing from a range of leading figures including James Close, Head of Climate Change Natwest Group; Emma Howard- Boyd, Chair of Green Finance Institute; Nick Cochrane -Dyet, Chair of British Chamber of Commerce Abu Dhabi; Anna Campbell -Jones, Designer, Retailer and presenter of Scotland’s Home of the Year; Billy McFadyen, Director of Finance & Development, SEC; Nicola Barclay, Chair of innovation centre BE-ST and Graham Ross, CEO, Austin Smith Lord.

Prior to COB itself, our Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Glasgow team along with our regional DYW partners will also host COB Futures on Monday 13 May in SWG3. Building on the work already done through our COP26 educational legacy initiative My Climate Path and Climate Heroes programme which helps mould the minds of the next generation of our workforce on potential green and circular job prospects, COB Futures will involve nearly 300 young people from the city region.  These young people will be engaging in work inspiration activities to showcase the emerging jobs of the future as businesses including Barclays, PRNT KTCHN and CBRE continue to change and adapt on their net zero journey. The appetite from business to support these ambitions is strong and that was clear when our Creative Director, Ashleigh McCulloch invited the Climate Heroes community to engage in COB Futures and was promptly overwhelmed by responses.

Over and above these business-led events, there will be a Circular Glasgow Mixer in partnership with Harley Haddow and Material Source on the 17 May as well.

And in parallel to Glasgow Climate Week the Glasgow City Innovation District will be hosting Glasgow Tech Fest again on the 16 May and branching out to deliver the first Glasgow Tech week programme as well.

Creating a punctuation point in the form of an event or a week of event activities has historically proven to stimulate partnerships and drive change in our city. I am ever hopeful that we will continue to see even more action on the ground, and also more investment realised to support the city’s ambitions, as a result of these new focal points. As we look ahead with the city creating plans to celebrate its 850th anniversary next year, there’s a real opportunity to really scale and build on all of this momentum.