We are getting very close now to the start of COP26 in my hometown of Glasgow. For so long it felt a long way off and as usual it’s suddenly approaching like a steam train, or a hydrogen or battery train.
Due to COVID-19, it’s been a strange build-up, both at international level and local level. Like everyone I read the news which seems increasingly gloomy on new international agreements. But I retain a level of optimism that we will at least make some progress.
I am convinced we have a younger generation who are realising that it’s going be tough and I trust their influence across the globe will begin to tell. We’re also seeing some big, progressive announcements. If you live your life completely on LinkedIn, there is post after post about local and global companies doing their bit. Despite that, the numbers remain daunting so much still to be done.
On a personal level I am getting excited about how Glasgow will respond. We are without doubt a city that excels in hosting big events, as witnessed in recent years, and we do love to show our city off to visitors, so those attending will be well looked after. Having been with Mott MacDonald for just around four months, I am delighted to see the capability we have in the company to address the big sustainability challenges and look forward to sharing this with my network.
I am particularly impressed with the sustainability initiative that our early career professionals (ECPs) have embarked on which is supporting work we are doing for ICE Scotland on a report outlining what we need to do to accelerate our net-zero journey in Scotland.
The workshops our ECPs have been leading around climate change adaptation, net-zero and the transport-energy nexus have been top quality and are a great illustration of integrated working, bringing together colleagues from all over the business.
With COVID-19 casting a shadow over the event, it’s been difficult for me to see who from my network will be in town. I am hoping that I can get the likes of Gabrielle Ginér, head of environmental sustainability at BT, into our office for a sustainability ‘blether’ – in Scotland that’s what we call having a friendly chat. I’m also looking to line up Geoff Mackey, head of sustainability at BASF, Professor John Crawford, who I am working with on a global soil health programme, and Dave Pearson from Star Renewables, who developed the river sourced heat pump at Queens Quay in Clydebank.
I have also been asked to attend an event with the Government of Colombia at Glasgow University and linking in our Bogota office as well as a range of other events on many aspects of sustainability.
In addition, I have been able to get Mott MacDonald involved in an event in Edinburgh hosted by the Under2 Coalition. This event has been brokered through Lolita Jackson, former sustainability advisor to the Mayor of New York. I am most excited that we will be hosting a jazz gig in our Glasgow office on 4 November and Lolita, as well as being an expert on sustainability, is a great jazz singer and will be bringing her band to perform in our office.
My feeling is that COP26 does provide an amazing opportunity for Mott MacDonald to demonstrate our expertise and we are involved in a number of high-level events. Equally, it’s a great opportunity to make friends, build relationships and keep the momentum going as there will be much more to be done post-COP.
Looking ahead, I am delighted that as part of Mott MacDonald’s Sustainability Forum we will be welcoming Gerard Howe, the Scottish Government’s lead for COP26, into our office to reflect on how it all went. Fingers crossed it will be an uplifting story.