COP26 Reflections

At COP26 I was fortunate enough to volunteer as a Team Leader in the Green Zone, which is the official area of the conference that is open to the public, hosting a whole variety of events on a wide range of issues.  An incredible opportunity to play a small part in welcoming the world to Glasgow, my hometown, but also to help get people engaged in climate action – a cause which I am really passionate about in both my personal and professional life.

Our role as volunteers was to engage with the public and delegates, helping out where we could to assist people attending events, providing a warm welcome and giving some local knowledge to those who have travelled from far and wide to attend COP26 in Glasgow.

I personally attended a few events including Our Place in the Cosmos in the Glasgow Science Centre planetarium and Role of indigenous peoples and their communities and nature-based solutions, held in the Green Zone and chaired by indigenous leaders from the Chilean, Peruvian and Brazilian amazon.  Both were eye-opening events that really put the challenges that we as a species face into perspective, driving home the need to work together and ensure often marginalised voices are heard and their knowledge utilised.

On the last Friday of COP26, myself and 11 other volunteers were extremely lucky to be invited to the Blue Zone to meet UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who took the time to thank all the volunteers and the people of Glasgow for their efforts in allowing COP26 to run “impeccably” (his own words!). This was an amazing honour that the other volunteers and I will undoubtedly remember for a long time to come.

As we entered the Blue Zone on Friday, there was a planned walk-out protesting the final draft agreement which was being circulated, demanding further climate action and justice to the worst affected people in the world who have contributed the least to the interlinked climate and nature loss crises. I have to say I was really struck and pleasantly surprised that such activism takes place not only in the streets outside the conference but also within the Blue Zone itself. I really didn’t have any idea what to expect from the Blue Zone and seeing the inner workings and logistics of bringing almost 200 countries together was fascinating.

The SSE Group was well represented with our signing of the pledge to ‘Power the Change’, which will be added to the first wind turbine at Dogger Bank, being centre stage in the VIP area which has hosted many world leaders over the past two weeks.

Volunteering in the Green Zone meant playing a (small) role in helping the public get involved in climate change. The biggest take away has been that we all have the ability to play our part in the climate movement – tiny changes in our own lifestyles, talking to people about environmental issues and making sure it’s at the forefront of our own decision making.  The visitor numbers to the Green Zone and the 100,000-strong climate march is testament to that, it’s hard not to be inspired to do more to help the world in which we all exist!

As COP26 ends, I, like many others, are trying to balance the fact that progress has been made with the Glasgow Climate Pact but there is still such a long way to go and so much more is needed to deliver meaningful climate action, justice and to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

For all of us here at SSEN Transmission, I guess it’s about getting back to the day job to ensure we meet our ambitious targets to play our part to deliver a Network for Net Zero, whilst keeping up the pressure in our personal and professional lives to ensure the commitments that have been made here are fulfilled and the further action that is still needed is mobilised.

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