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Chris Stewart

Collective Architecture's Chris Stewart discusses his overlapping roles as architect and member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association in promoting green design to a wider audience.

COP26 Day Five

November 6th, 2021

Following in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg, I made my way to COP 26. Sounds impressive, but in reality I was just late for the march, and they had all gone. Seriously gone, the only signs that 20,000 Friday Futures activists had travelled through the area where some returning children with placards, and a lot of bikes chained up on the Kelvingrove fences. Sad that yet again I had missed the action I trudged down to COP26.

Cheered up by the camaraderie and enthusiasm of my fellow RIAS delegates, we sat down to a Nordic Pavilion discussion about the dual crisis of biodiversity and energy. It was fascinating to see how just 30 mins of discussion opened the opportunity to map the best locations to generate wind power both on the land and the sea could be integrated with a complimentary mapping of biodiversity. The dual urgent need to massively increase renewable energy can therefore be carried out with minimal disruption to our eco systems. Mapping and multi-disciplinary working are familiar to architects, and the immediate metaphors to our own workplace was striking. We chatted like mad through our masks as we wandered around the maze of stalls, why is everything we do so linear and confrontational.

Today we delved deeper into the COP underbelly and sat through some of the formal process, difficult to follow and highly procedural we persevered, if not just to understand how a meeting of 200 countries function, and how difficult it could be to come to an agreement. This contrasted with how a small panel of four could brainstorm an idea only to face a torturous route to reality. Are politicians the log jam, with this thought in our heads it was interesting to listen into a discussion organised by ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), a circular economy debate between like-minded cities and how grassroot initiatives should be at the fore front of mainstream development. Heartening to see Glasgow lead this initiative, and I for one will do all I can to both help our dear green place and hold them / us to our commitments.

Time had come for my RIAS pals to catch their trains back to their cities, one last detour  to take in The Sustainable Glasgow Landing. Always a hive of activity with vertical gardens, a Beyond Zero Home and today a series of Brazilian films highlighting their threatened culture and environment. We made the train and I waved of my friends, to what is likely to be my last day at the official COP, we hand over the batten to a fresh crew next week.

It has been a fascinating week although I somehow have felt more detached within the COP26 circus tent, than outside. It has been a joy to meet up with my RIAS comrades on a daily basis and discuss what we can do. The issues are vast however we can all make a difference; our job will be to continue in a field which is far from without significance. Next step for me, today I am off to join the COP26 Coalition March from Kelvingrove Park, take a turn at the GIA COP26 Shop, then catch up on what I have missed.


The Sustainable Glasgow Landing

IGS Vertical Farm

Beyond Zero Homes 

RIAS Inspiring Futures

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