IN just over three weeks’ time, presidents, prime ministers, and campaigners will converge here in Glasgow for the 26th UN Conference of Parties negotiations – COP26.

Their collective goal will be to tackle the global climate crisis, creating a safer and fairer future. COP26, perhaps more than any of its predecessors, comes a pivotal moment for our planet.

The recent report by the UN body which assesses climate change was stark. The IPCC found that global warming is continuing and will result extreme weather and climate shocks worldwide. That includes Scotland. UN secretary general Antonio Guterres described the report as a “code red for humanity”. It’s difficult to disagree.

Similarly, its hard not to agree with Greta Thunberg when she dismissed much of the climate rhetoric from global leaders as “blah blah blah”. In Glasgow next month the world really has to raise its ambition. We have to see agreement, not just on pledges to reduce greenhouse gases, but on the practical steps required to do that. And we know that cities are where these measures are needed most, cities exactly like Glasgow. The reason is quite simple. Cities are where people live, work and travel around, and generate the bulk of the world’s emissions. As such, cities are where the big changes will take place.

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In Glasgow, we’ve a plan to start preparing our city and its people for those changes. At last week’s annual conference on Glasgow’s economy, I took the opportunity to begin spelling out what that can look like. It was also an ideal platform because addressing the climate emergency also presents us with one of the greatest economic opportunities we have across the next decade and beyond.

Right now, that might be a difficult concept to grasp.

The global pandemic has had a devastating impact on our businesses, public services and communities and it will take some time to properly recover.

At the same time, the pandemic has masked the rapidly emerging consequences of Brexit. Glasgow voted overwhelming against leaving the EU yet here we are facing labour shortages, increasing fuel prices and the cost of living, coupled with the removal of the lifeline Universal Credit uplift and the end of the furlough scheme. We are entering a period of uncertainty and I’ve little confidence Boris and his cronies have any idea how to solve the problems their Brexit deal has created. But what Glasgow has is an opportunity to put ourselves in the shop window of the world as the planet gears up for a decade of profound change.

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Regardless of the outcome of the international discussions, we are ready to translate this unprecedented attention and profile on Glasgow into securing the investment that will be drawn to the city of COP and ensuring that this talented, innovative, and globally-connected city is in the best possible place to become a pioneer in the green economy. The climate emergency is the world’s emergency. It isn’t a passing fad. Hosting COP makes Glasgow the envy of our peers across the world. And we’re going to the rise to the opportunities it presents, from growing new skills and creating high quality jobs and life chances in a modern city that puts the wellbeing of people and planet at its centre to greener, safer, healthier streets and places, and better connected communities. And we’ll do so while stimulating our economy and addressing long-standing social challenges such as fuel poverty. At the conference I discussed Glasgow’s Greenprint for Investment, a prospectus of £30 billion of projects to address climate and push us towards net zero.

The plans include a £10bn retrofit of hundreds of thousands of homes right across the City Region, using the River Clyde to heat up to half the city’s homes, capping the M8 to reduce air pollution and really improve the look and feel of the centre of the city, and the Glasgow Metro.

Metro, and its importance to Glasgow’s social, economic and environmental wellbeing is something I’ve championed throughout my time as City Leader. So it’s really encouraging that it is currently under serious consideration by Transport Scotland. We’re working with them to progress a proposal which I’m optimistic will be transformational for Glasgow and its city region.

What’s sometimes overlooked is that a critical area for discussion next month will be how cities and governments can pay for all this change. And those gathering in the city will include not just major investors but international firms who will want to use the profile of COP to build new business bases. What an opportunity we have to show the world we’re ready and willing.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the many dozens of virtual engagements I’ve had with cities across the globe over the past year, it’s that there isn’t a single challenge or problem Glasgow faces that isn’t shared. There is nothing inevitable or particular about our challenges – nothing that says Glasgow will fail where others succeed. We’ll never stop striving to fix our long-standing issues. Far too many of our fellow Glaswegians live in distress and that’s an affront we should never accept.

But we can match ambition and achievement, combining a green and successful economy with green, inclusive and healthy communities, and a safe and secure city. The world doesn’t expect to see a perfect city. It knows Glasgow is a city of challenges but one determined to overcome them And that’s what we’ll show them. Not just because we want to impress Joe Biden or the UN. But for ourselves.