COP26 and Glasgow Science Centre: inspiring climate action

By Dr Emma Woodham, Climate Change Programme Manager, Glasgow Science Centre

Published:01 May 2020

Dr Emma Woodham headshot
Dr Emma Woodham is committed to ensuring COP26 doesn't happen to the people of the UK, but with them.

Glasgow Science Centre exists to inspire everyone to explore and understand the world around them and to discover and enjoy science. Last year, we were excited to find ourselves at the heart of the most pivotal event of our time for climate action, COP26.

Although the COP has been delayed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to talk about our changing climate is growing in urgency. Whenever it happens, COP26 will still be hosted at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), a stone’s throw away from us on the opposite bank of the river Clyde.

Glasgow Science Centre is committed to delivering an extensive public engagement programme alongside COP26 to ensure this event doesn’t happen to the people of the UK, but withthem. We want to involve school pupils, families and adults, including those from the most deprived and remote areas of the UK.

And although COP26 has been postponed, we’re getting started right now.

Who Are we?

Image of The Glasgow Science Centre site
The Glasgow Science Centre is opposite the Scottish Event Campus where COP26 will be hosted.

Glasgow Science Centre is an educational charity dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of science – all branches of science – to our well-being, our economy and our society.

Our role is not to teach science, but to change the way that people feel and engage with it in order to build their social, cultural and science capital.

And that’s all people – families, school children, young people and adults ­– working in partnership with local and national government, academia, industry and third sector organisations, engaging with more than 450,000 people each year through our on-site and outreach activities.

Visitors who come to Glasgow will find that we are home to more than 450 interactive exhibits, a digital planetarium, science show theatre, IMAX cinema, teaching laboratory and maker space.

We would have been putting all of this to use in the run-up to COP26, and we still hope to be doing that as restrictions ease and the rescheduled UN summit approaches; but for now, we need a different approach.

Connecting Communities with Climate Change

Glasgow Science Centre programme themes
The programme offers ample opportunity for everyone to get involved.

We are currently connecting with a host of partners to create a platform to inform, inspire and empower people of all ages and backgrounds to act now on climate change. Our programme content will be based on facts provided by experts, delivered with us in a relevant, engaging and accessible way.

There will be lots of ways to get involved, from family activity days, to discussions, exhibitions and festivals and much more.

Recent circumstances have led us, like many, to expand our online and digital offer, which we will continue to build on in the coming months.

The story of our programme will flow around the following key themes:

  • Environmental Science: We debunk the myths and get to grips with climate change facts. Find out how life on land and underwater is changing, and what you can do to save it.
  • Energy and Travel: How does the energy we use and the way we travel impact our planet? Investigate the role renewable energy sources and electric vehicles play in our transition to sustainable living.
  • Food: Tuck-in to the colourful world of sustainable food. How does our food get from farm to fork? Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint through your own food choices.
  • Our Green Futures:  Discover a bright future that balances people, planet and prosperity. Find out what you can do to build healthier, happier and fairer future.
  • Climate justice: How can we connect as one global community and put people at the heart of the climate crisis? Hear the stories of those contributing least to climate change but suffering the most.

There is a growing feeling that the huge societal and economic changes created by the COVID-19 pandemic could set an interesting backdrop to COP26, with world leaders and society potentially being more open to change. At the right time, this may help to open up new opportunities to explore and deliver more impactful public engagement around climate action.

We aim to launch our programme later in the year, building momentum right the way through to COP26 in 2021. By that time, our centre in Glasgow should of course be open, and we hope to be playing a central role in how the city celebrates COP26.

But if we spend the coming months profitably, we will already have reached a large proportion of UK citizens – helping them to understand the imperatives of climate science, explore options for reducing their own carbon footprints, and appreciate the importance of the United Nations climate talks as they come to the UK for the first time in their near-30 year history.

If you or your organisation would be interested in working with us to engage the public in the lead up to, during or after COP26 please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email emma.woodham@gsc.org.uk.

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