If you have watched the news, listened to the radio, or spent time on social media this past fortnight, then it is unlikely that you won’t have heard about COP26 (COP stands for Conference of the Parties).


Henry Boot has an office in the centre of Glasgow and I had the privilege to spend some time in the city last week and witness first-hand the atmosphere and the passion of those attending the conference and associated activity.


Over the week I attended some fantastic and really informative sessions. The Green Zone (located at Glasgow’s Science Centre on the banks of the beautiful River Clyde) was packed full of interesting exhibitors and guest speakers and had a really exciting buzz as members of the public mingled with experts and organisers. Even better was the range of sessions hosted by the CBI. I attended 2 Hustings Sessions at the Scottish Power building (an enormous and boldly modern office in the heart of the city) focusing on sustainable travel and the business case for protecting nature and biodiversity. Both events featured really engaging and passionate expert guest speakers and I came away feeling informed and inspired.


Myself and our Head of Scotland for HBD Matt Bellshaw, also felt very lucky to be invited to join the CBI for their drinks reception at the HQ of the world renowned drinks manufacturer Edrington. Guests heard from some great speakers including the President of the CBI Lord Bilmoria (fresh off a journey on an innovative hydrogen fuelled train) who passionately called for all businesses to utilise their expertise and creativity to develop solutions and play their part.


So a fascinating and inspiring experience but what were the key takeaways?


Firstly, and to coin the phrase from environmental campaigner Tom Rivett-Carnac, I believe now is the time for us all to remain ‘stubbornly optimistic’. There has been mixed feedback to the agreements secured at COP. Whilst some acclaim the achievement of agreements on ending deforestation and coal production, others worry that it is not enough, and we remain on a worrying road of global temperatures rising ever higher. The long-term outcomes remain unclear but what is obvious is the need for action and commitment. We all have a role to play in tackling climate change and the momentum for boldly standing up to the challenge is clearly growing every day.


Secondly, businesses have a really significant role to play and have been very well represented at COP. Many have observed how positive it is to see the significant presence of corporations and SMEs from around the world, whom all want to play their part in adapting their businesses for the good of the planet. I am proud that Henry Boot were amongst them and that we, through our NZC Framework, have a clear and ambitious plan to collaborate with our people and partners to decarbonise and protect and preserve our planet.


My final observation was that collaboration will be critical. Climate change is too big a problem for any one country, business or individual to tackle alone. It will require us all to put our shoulder to the wheel and stand up to the challenge together in partnership.


It is not yet clear how this COP in Glasgow will be remembered but I have been very proud to have been there and seen the overwhelming hope and positivity that together we can respond to climate change.