OVER the past two weeks we’ve seen the great and the good visit Glasgow for COP26. All eyes were on the world leaders who descended on the SEC complex at the beginning of the conference. But it is today’s negotiations, where the focus will be on the role of cities and the built environment, that we should be paying close attention to.

Because, ultimately, it will be Cities and regions that drive the race to net-zero. The role of central government is to redistribute, enable and empower. But it is in our city, and all those like it around the world, where change will happen.

Our own City Chambers has been transformed into the “Host City Zone”, where we have welcomed City Leaders and Mayors from across the globe. They have been telling us about and, importantly, showing us their own ambitious plans to tackle climate change at a local level creating those fairer and more sustainable streets for their citizens.

We heard from Socialist Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo whose ambitious plans for connected and safe cycle lanes have made headlines throughout the pandemic. As well as her forward-thinking and crucially long-term plan for retrofitting homes and buildings across Paris, seizing the opportunity to become more energy-efficient, improve the quality of life for so many and ensure that no one is left behind in the transition to net-zero.

And, we don’t have to look too far for similar inspiration.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with those local leaders paving the way across the UK on the issue of climate change.

From Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham, and his bold plans to create a fully functioning bus network across his region.

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, whose One City Plan focuses on tangible outcomes rooted in wellbeing and long-term thinking, not reactionary solutions.

And the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has acknowledged how devastating the issue of air pollution can be to families across his city and the world, and his commitment to do all he can to improve that.

All of these Leaders both at home and from across the globe are clear: it is cities where real change will happen. Something this important cannot be left to national or devolved governments. And especially not to those who are desperate to get a quick headline on targets but lack the ambition to back it up with any action.

In Scotland, we have an SNP First Minister and an SNP Scottish Government who have failed time and time again on tackling this climate emergency, they’ve missed key targets, they’ve abandoned plans for a national energy company and we still cannot get a straight answer on what they think on the Cambo oil field.

And in Glasgow, we have an SNP leader who is content to be photographed with Mayors from across the world but has no willingness to learn from the work they are doing, and no willingness to stand up against central Government when it is letting Glasgow down. This administration has no ambition for Glasgow to think bigger, to be better and to have that world-leading status once again.

Mayor Marvin Rees said recently that “the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities,” – he’s right. Some of our Leaders are full of hot air. But can they turn that into real change?