Officially a general term meaning ‘Conference of the Parties’, the most well-known COP is the annual conference officially known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
The 25th annual COP – COP25 – was recently held in Madrid (although it was originally planned for Chile, before civil unrest took hold and it was relocated).
It’s a big deal, and it’s coming to Glasgow from 9 – 19 November 2020.
What does it have to do with me?
First up, 30,000 delegates and 200 leaders from around the world are expected to arrive in the city, so you can expect some disruption. They’ll be based around the Scottish Events Campus, so security arrangements and travel around that part of the city are likely to be affected.
You can also expect accommodations to be booked up around that time of year, and with Greater Glasgow’s population temporarily growing by 5% (but likely all packed in around the middle), there’ll be a lot more people all competing to be fed and entertained in the city centre. Worth noting if you have any big events during that couple of weeks…
Secondly, each COP comes with an informal fringe, which is an opportunity for the public to get involved.
What is the COP fringe?
Totally self-organised, and separate from the actual summit, COP fringe events are a place for the public to get involved and talk about climate change issues.
From campaign groups and protests to local food-growing organisations and educational activities, it’s a chance for a wide range of people to have a platform.
The Scottish Climate Change Secretary has arranged that the Glasgow Science Centre – just across the river from the SEC – will be a host venue to some of these activities.
The Science Centre won’t be big enough (or just won’t suit) a lot of the activities people want to run across the city, though, and it’s important that everyone with an idea for a fringe event has a space to collaborate and organise.
So who’s organising it, and what will they do?
Over the past few months, a national group has started to self-organise. Representatives from lobbying groups, environment-focused NGOs (think Friends of the Earth), trade unions, climate justice organisations, and local community groups have all entered the mix.
This group doesn’t go by an overall name, but you can think of it as a coalition of UK civil society groups. Broadly, it’s anyone who isn’t part of the country’s official, governmental involvement.
You can read more about them at https://cop26coalition.wordpress.com/
‘We are working in a broad, diverse and inclusive formation to organise ourselves as UK civil society around COP26 and are in the process of establishing UK-level and Scottish-level coordinating groups, with Scottish representation on the UK group and strong communication between the two groups.’COP26 coalition
How can I help my allotments / GAF get involved?
Short answer – think about whether:
- your allotment site could open its doors to the community in some way that relates to the challenges of a changing climate, or
- you or your allotment members could bring your knowledge of small-scale, sustainable food-growing out to the community at some other venue, or
- you could help GAF coordinate these kinds of activities between sites, or
- you know of some other food-growing-type group who might like to be involved
Some of the GAF members were invited to the most recent coalition meeting in November – you can read about what happened and decide if you want to get involved.