IT’S a reasonable question for Glaswegians to ask. Why us? Why should our city be hosting COP26, potentially the most significant global event for generations and one the world hopes can set our planet on a safer, greener and more equitable path?

The reason is quite straightforward, if not immediately obvious. Glasgow isn’t simply a good choice, we are indeed the ideal COP host because of the very challenges we face in becoming the sustainable city our future wellbeing requires.

We’ve come an unbelievably long way since the dark days of just a few decades ago and more recently we’ve accelerated the implementation of the bold policies needed to address climate change. Our efforts to make the Dear Green Place greener still are now internationally recognised. But as transformed a city as we’ve become, social and environmental issues rooted in the decisions of the past still stand in our way.

COP isn’t a prize for the city with the greenest credentials. It’s about finding the solutions cities just like ours need to make in the years ahead to improve the wellbeing of our citizens and secure the future of our planet.

Perhaps we don’t appreciate it yet but Glasgow’s profile around the world has never been greater. We’re one of the most talked about cities in 2021. Our story is really resonating on the international stage.

The story we tell is of a birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, a small port city that became a manufacturing titan of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The label ‘Clydebuilt’ was a guarantee of innovation and quality.

Then came the demise of heavy industry in the later part of the last century and the serious decline and devastation that brought to so many communities. Thousands were left jobless, some never to work again, triggering a wave of generational unemployment, poverty, poor physical and mental health and alienation, some of which continues to this day.

When the factories and shipyards shut, they left scars of toxic land across our city and its communities. We’ve made serious inroads to address this in recent years but these brownfield sites remain a blight on Glasgow and a barrier to our social and economic wellbeing.

And in an attempt to address industrial decline, the planners of the past decided to build Scotland’s busiest stretch of motorway through the heart of Glasgow, with still far too much crosstown traffic directed through the heart of our city centre. Little wonder that, despite having the lowest car ownership rates in the UK, we have had some of its worst pollution and congestion.

But these challenges are not unique to Glasgow. In fact, they are typical for hundreds of post-industrial cities across the world. Many cities in parts of Asia and eastern Europe, which became industrialised long after Glasgow, will likely face similar in the years to come. And as is the case across the globe, it’s Glasgow’s most disadvantaged communities who are at risk of being hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, despite contributing least to it. It is the typicality of Glasgow’s story, and the progress we’ve already demonstrated in overcoming the legacies of our past, that marks us out as the ideal host for COP26.

To give a few examples. Just recently, feasibility work has begun on the work needed to make hundreds of thousands of homes across the Glasgow city region more energy efficient, reducing both greenhouse gases and fuel bills and creating jobs over the next decade. It’s an identical challenge I’ve heard from city leaders from across the UK, Europe and the world many times. Whether it’s the need to reduce emissions from transport, or combine social and economic recovery from the pandemic with how we address climate change, Glasgow’s priorities are also global priorities. In the plans for a Glasgow Metro, for example, we’ve a project that can simultaneously reduce dependency on the car, better connect communities, open up land for development and create an economic stimulus coming out of the pandemic.

Two key things mark this COP out from its 25 predecessors. Firstly, the absolutely critical role of cities like Glasgow in tackling the climate emergency has now been recognised. And secondly, this time world leaders will be focused on the practicalities of cutting fossil fuel emissions, the specific actions cities like ours will have to take. If you can crack those challenges in Glasgow - with all of the legacies of our past - you can crack them just about anywhere. And that puts us in a great place.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will share with Glasgow Times readers more about our journey to the COP, and how we plan to take those opportunities and use our host status to help plot our way to a better city. I’ve always said that COP26 has to happen with and for Glaswegians and not simply to them. It must be about attracting investment; making safer and healthier places to live; creating jobs and providing skills for a new low carbon economy; making our homes more affordable to heat; connecting communities with accessible, green public transport; and becoming the world-class city that matches our ambition and that Glasgow’s citizens deserve.

In the meantime, I wish all Glasgow Times readers a very pleasant summer.