Neil Brownlee speaking image_website

Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events, VisitScotland

Article Published 26/11/2021

Earlier this month Scotland hosted its biggest event to date, COP26. I could not be prouder of how the event was delivered by our friends and colleagues in Glasgow.

COP26 is a prime example of how business events can be a catalyst for socio-economic change and a driver in tackling some of the world's biggest challenges, a message very close to the heart of VisitScotland's Journey to Change campaign.

Some incredibly important discussions took place across the two-week event, with some solid pledges and commitments agreed by countries across the globe. However, now the momentum is there we cannot rest on our laurels; we must turn those conversations into action.

The Glasgow Climate Pact

The Glasgow Climate Pact is the new climate deal which was agreed by the 197 countries in attendance. The agreement sets the global agenda on climate change until 2031.

Notable pledges include:

  • The COP27 conference will take place in Egypt next year, three years earlier than planned, to further the commitment to cut global CO2 emissions.
  • For the first time at a COP conference, countries agreed to reduce their usage of coal. Coal is a huge contributor to climate change and is responsible for 40% of the world's annual CO2 emissions.
  • A significant increase in funding for poorer countries, so they can transition to clean and renewable energy.
  • To phase-out subsidies that artificially lower the price of fossil fuels.
  • A prospective $1tn a year fund from 2025 to further support initiatives to help tackle climate change.

As a country, we have already made some significant steps towards reducing our impact on the climate. Currently, Scotland is producing the equivalent of 90% of its electricity from renewable sources and by 2030 the government has pledged to generate 50% of the country's overall energy consumption from renewable sources and to almost decarbonise its entire energy system by 2050.

Throughout the conference, several other agreements were confirmed including:

  • A pledge from the United States of America and China, who agreed to do more to reduce emissions, including methane, over the next decade and move towards clean and renewable energy.
  • 100 countries, which are home to approximately 85% of the world's forests, promised to stop deforestation by 2030.
  • 100 countries pledged to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030.
  • Several financial organisations, which control around $130tn, agreed to invest in clean and renewable energy and move away from fossil fuel-burning industries.

I am personally delighted to see some of the world's biggest countries are now opening their eyes to the enormity of the situation and are starting to take climate change seriously.

Beyond COP26

Next week the VisitScotland Business Events team, along with several of our partners, will be attending and exhibiting at IBTM World in Barcelona (stand F50) where we will continue to showcase Scotland as a sustainable and forward-thinking destination.

I will be joining a panel session titled Journey to Change: The Future of Business Events after COP26, which will be moderated by Rory Archibald, Associations & Sectors at VisitScotland Business Events. The session will detail how the outcomes of the conference are shaping our ambitions to move Scotland's events sector towards a net zero economy and how focussing on how the legacy of COP26 is being used to position Scotland as a sustainable event destination and how this supports and connects with Scotland's wider Journey to Change initiative.

We are looking forward to meeting with our European friends and colleagues and continuing to demonstrate how business events can be part of the solution in tackling some of the world's biggest challenges.