By Brendan Montague writing in The Ecologist 20th August 2021
Glasgow City Council to ban big polluters from public venues during COP26
Corporations that “contribute towards catastrophic climate change” have been banned from public buildings during the COP26 conference this November by Glasgow City Council.
A motion passed unanimously at a full council meeting is believed to be the first example of a host city counteracting the presence of particular vested interests whilst the talks take place.
Politicians and campaigners have celebrated this development, but have also called on Glasgow City Council to ensure that the criteria for access to venues unequivocally rules out the presence of big polluters.
The motion mandates that Glasgow City Council “will take steps to ensure that venues and community spaces either owned or operated by the Council are not used for the benefit of those who deny, ignore or wilfully contribute to catastrophic climate change, for the duration of COP26.”
Councillor Eva Murray, who proposed the motion, said: “We understand COP26 is set to be the most important climate conference the world has ever seen and will attract people from across the globe.
“The motion also highlights the crucial role we have to play as a city council in ensuring there is a lasting, positive legacy for Glaswegians as well as citizens from under-represented groups.”
She added: “It is our hope that those spaces will be used during COP26 to showcase and give space to grassroots organisations and activists from Glasgow as well as those who may be travelling from other parts of the world.”
The criteria for determining access to publicly owned venues has since been decided by council officials.
Christy Mearns, a member of the Scottish Greens and now Depute Lord Provost, said: “Applications are being decided on soon and it’s exciting to think that, as a result of cross-party work, Glasgow City Council will be in a position to reject applications and send a strong message to the world: that we will not support polluters at COP26 and that they have no place in influencing our response to the climate crisis.
“This has been an absurd feature of previous climate conferences and, if we are to make the progress that we need to make globally, to safeguard our people and planet’s future, then we must not be influenced in any way by those who continue to profit from climate collapse.”
She added: “Our public spaces should instead be for those that most need to be heard: those from the Global South and First Nations’ peoples, for example. Those who have least contributed to the climate crisis, yet those who have already paid a disproportionately heavy price because of it.”
The UK Government’s hosting of COP26 has been criticised for resembling a ‘corporate jamboree’ with a series of COP26 sponsors and affiliated companies linked to carbon-intensive business models.
Recent revelations also uncovered a host of big polluters at key UN Climate talks leading up to COP26, while previous talks have been sharply criticised for the presence of companies like Shell and BP, amongst many others.
Campaigners have encouraged Glasgow City Council to detail “clear and strong criteria” for determining access to council spaces.
Scott Tully from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters said: “With robust criteria in place, this would send an important message to the perpetrators of ongoing climate crimes that they are not welcome in Glasgow.
“Besides the obvious fossil fuel corporations, this criteria must include industry-backed lobby groups, those invested in the destruction of nature and those financing climate breakdown.”
He added: “Without clear and strong criteria, big polluters will once again use publicly-owned spaces for their illicit self-promotion. We will be watching how this progresses very closely and will make sure that we hold our council to account.”