Prof Jaime Toney reflects on COP26

Published: 23 November 2021

The Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions share her reflections on COP26.

COP26 proved to be a rollercoaster of slow approaches, fast descents and many feelings both highs and lows. As a climate scientist I made a point of attending and participating in a wide range of events, not just the science, and the complexity and emotions tied up in the issues surrounding climate change reinforced the sense of urgency with which we need to act.

Out of the packed programme of events, both at the University and in the official Green Zone, for me, what resonated the most is Youth Champion Ricardo Pineda’s frank discussion about the impacts that his home community in Honduras is already undergoing due to sea level rise when he spoke during the Intergenerational Dialogue on Climate Interventions.

There were so many reminders from vulnerable nations and indigenous cultures that the developed nations are not doing enough to protect people now and future generations from the climate change that we have caused. We know from hindsight that the Glasgow agreement does not go far enough to put us on a pathway to achieving the 1.5-degrees Celsius target, and we need to put the pressure on to go back next year with more demanding targets.

One bit of hope is that wealthy countries recognised that they need to allow poorer countries to use a larger portion of the funds that they receive for adaptation rather than mitigation.

While I watched with interest the high-level negotiations, I was re-energised by participating in events where I, representing the Centre for Sustainable Solutions and a larger team of researchers, have been able to forge partnerships at the city level, where collaborative and inclusive change is possible and scalable.

Through partnership with the city and C40 Cities we are involve in creating a City Portrait with changemakers across Glasgow that will help create a shared vision for a just and sustainable future where both Glasgow’s people and nature flourish. This is an incredibly exciting area of work and we hope to be able to share more with you about it in the near future, so watch this space!

First published: 23 November 2021