The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow was the largest event that the UK Government has hosted and the largest COP ever.
Arup worked closely with the client, suppliers and partners to embed event sustainability from the outset, going far beyond the requirements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Together, we delivered a truly sustainable summit, leaving an enduring legacy and setting a new global standard.
Through our influence, COP26 achieved:
• PAS2060, the international standard for carbon neutrality, to declare carbon neutrality. This involved the most comprehensive carbon footprint ever calculated for a COP, paving the way for future events to take the broadest view of impacts, by having data to help achieve greater emissions reductions.
• ISO20121 certification, the international standard for event sustainability management systems, covering environmental, social and economic outcomes. The external auditor described the system as ‘the most comprehensive and professional’ they had seen.
The client and entire supply chain were empowered to bring a sustainability lens to all decision making, not only enhancing outcomes from this event but extending influence to future events. This includes changing procurement practices and becoming a catalyst for sectoral changes. We amplified beneficial outcomes, this included the client and suppliers:
• Prioritising low carbon alternative energy sources, such as electric and low emission vehicles, solar energy for temporary traffic lights, and hydrotreated vegetable oil to fuel generators, instead of diesel.
• Minimising materials use. The production company left structures exposed where possible to avoid material use pavilion hosts minimised giveaways; and around 95,000 single use cups were saved by providing reusable cups, recycled aluminium water bottles and water refill stations.
• Reducing waste and adding social value by donating items to local charities, projects and low-income families, including 15,000m2 of carpets, 3,000m2 of graphics, 2,550m of fabric, 2,300kg of sandbags, 694 wooden flats, 240 litres of paint, 90 doors, 15 whiteboards, six tonnes of wood, six wheelchairs, five reception desks and five fridges.
• Prioritising locally sourced, healthy and in-season food to minimise transport miles and boost local businesses. 95% of food served was seasonal and from the UK. At least 80% came from Scotland. The carbon footprint of food was shown on menus, so attendees could make sustainable choices
• Growing social value by employing local people and developing skills. For instance, the production company recruited 15 runners, prioritising students from under-represented backgrounds, employed four graduate interns and provided paid work experience placements.
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