Scottish Affairs Committee
Oral evidence: Committee on COP26: Preparing for a successful conference, HC 218
Wednesday 23 June 2021
Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on 23 June 2021.
Members present: Pete Wishart (Chair); Mhairi Black; Andrew Bowie; Deidre Brock; Wendy Chamberlain; Alberto Costa; Sally-Ann Hart; John Lamont; Douglas Ross.
Members of other Committees present: Neil Parish, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee; Stewart Malcolm McDonald, Foreign Affairs Committee; Carol Monaghan, Science and Technology Committee; Alison Thewliss, Treasury Committee; Darren Jones, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee; Chris Law, International Development Committee; Barry Gardiner, Environmental Audit Committee.
Questions 1 - 57
I: Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency and Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Ros Eales, Chief Operating Officer, COP26 Unit, Cabinet Office; Dr John Murton, UK COP26 Envoy, COP26 Unit, Cabinet Office.
Examination of witnesses
Q1 Chair: Welcome to the special meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee looking at the preparations for COP26. We are delighted that we are joined this morning by an extended gallery of colleagues from a variety of Committees across the House as part of our ongoing look into the COP26 to be hosted in Glasgow. We have colleagues from the Treasury, Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology, BEIS, Environmental Audit and another one, and I am sure whoever is going to be coming on will tell us exactly what that is. You are all more than welcome. We are also very grateful to the Minister and her colleagues for giving us their time this morning. I know that time is tight so we will get straight to business and ask the Minister to introduce herself and her colleagues.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thank you, Mr Chairman. My role in COP26 is as the International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience, one of the three pillars of the Paris Agreement. I spend most of my time working with developing countries to listen to some of the challenges they are facing and help them make progress to meet their ambitions under the Paris Agreement.
I have with me today those who are much more knowledgeable than I, so I will defer to them on the details of the conference itself: Ros Eales, who is the Chief Operating Officer for COP26, and John Murton, who is our UK COP26 Envoy. They are dealing day to day with the complexities of organising what I think will be the largest conference that the UK has hosted.
Q2 Chair: Thank you very much and welcome to your colleagues. You are more than welcome to the Scottish Affairs Committee this morning.
Minister, this will be the biggest summit that the UK has ever hosted and has been described as possibly the most significant climate event since Paris in 2015. Are you and your Department absolutely satisfied that the UK Government have everything in place and are you thoroughly prepared and sure that this summit will be a success?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Absolutely. As you say, it will be the largest event that we have hosted. The challenges of Covid—and it was due to be last year and we felt that it was absolutely right to postpone it to this year—have meant that there has been a lot of complexities that would otherwise not have been in the mix to help us deliver it. COP will be the moment when we as a world secure our path to global net zero emissions by 2050 and define what the next decade looks like and the practical realities of tackling the climate change challenges.
We want to make sure that despite the challenges of last year we can move forward and create a safe, secure, sustainable and, really importantly, inclusive COP26 that will enable the conditions for some really outstanding policy outcomes that leave a lasting legacy of change. It allows Glasgow to flourish as the host city, which I think is a really important part of this as the UK, but the presidency is about making sure that we provide the environment to be able to deliver the very best outcomes. We are working with all our partners to ensure we can achieve that.
Q3 Chair: You mentioned some of the difficulties that were identified at the beginning of this process and Claire O’Neill pointed to a number of difficulties as things started to be progressed and developed. There was a claim of a lack of buy-in from BEIS and the Treasury and there was an underappreciation of the project’s scale. Have these concerns now been thoroughly addressed? How do you respond to some of the criticisms that were in place a few months ago from Claire O’Neill and others who were slightly critical about the preparations by the UK Government?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: The COP Unit has grown substantially. The clearest statement of absolute commitment and an increase in the capacity to be able to work on delivering the outcome that we want was when Alok Sharma took on the role as COP President Designate full-time in January. That enabled him to be literally 150%, if that is possible, focused on the complexities of the conference itself and the challenges that are greater than they would have been because of Covid alongside working across the world, obviously with our Italian partners and the UN, to drive forward the sort of ambition that we need to see from all partners in the UNFCCC process.
Ros can give you the numbers that we have brought in, but the COP Unit has grown substantially. Within the climate funds part of BEIS, our team here is very focused and the FCDO teams and at post everywhere have COP26 at the top of every agenda. The whole of Government is absolutely focused on helping to deliver the best COP that we can. Perhaps Ros can give you more details on the numbers.
Q4 Chair: We will just leave that, if that is okay, Ros. I know that there will be questions on this as we go through. The last thing from me, Minister, is that there were a few difficulties highlighting the relationship issues between the UK and Scottish Governments and issues around Glasgow City Council. Can you satisfy this Committee that all of these are now ironed out and that everybody is working together to ensure that we get a successful summit?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Absolutely. Alok and the team are working very closely with principal partners in Glasgow City Council to ensure that COP26 provides great benefits to the people of Glasgow and is able to leave a very positive legacy. I think that is an important part of this for us with the presidency.
I know that CPD chairs a COP26 devolved Administrations ministerial group, which I think is attended by climate change Ministers from the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive as well as UK Government Secretaries of State. That group is there to ensure that effective engagement and collaboration between UK Government and DAs on COP26 is as seamless as it possibly can be. I think the last one was on 10 June, a couple of weeks ago now, where the objectives for COP26 were discussed in more detail. The questions of international engagement and, of course, domestic stakeholder engagement are an important part of how we do the comms and public engagement in the run-up to November.
Chair: Excellent. Thank you ever so much for that.
Q5 John Lamont: Good morning to the witnesses, particularly to the Minister, my constituency neighbour in Berwick-upon-Tweed. I want to ask about the economic impact that COP26 will bring not just to Glasgow and Scotland and the whole of the UK but particularly to communities like my own in the Borders. How are the UK Government ensuring that that economic benefit is being maximised and how is it being measured?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thank you, John. Hosting COP26 in Glasgow is hugely positive not only for the UK as a whole and our economy but, as you say, for the local Glasgow and wider Scottish economies. Really importantly it is an opportunity to showcase some of the UK’s world-leading capabilities for offshore wind, green finance and electric vehicles to a global audience. All those who attend the conference in Glasgow will provide welcome business. Ros can speak to the numbers we expect, but many thousands of people will have the opportunity to enjoy and get to know all that Scotland has to offer.
One of the interesting things is seeing innovative ideas from small businesses through to some of our major sponsors like SSE and National Grid who are clearly critical partners on a big scale in how the UK is delivering our net zero challenge. So many different groups are making sure that they are taking the opportunity to showcase and share more widely with their local communities and their potential consumers just what their innovative products and thinking will have to help meet—one of the key issues, for me, to deliver net zero, to be successful, is about consumer engagement and behavioural change.
The opportunity to showcase in the UK, in Glasgow, UK leadership at the COP26 moment is like a springboard from which we will be able to continue to grow that engagement. It is a starting point for the next stage of our consumer engagement to help our citizens, my constituents, to think about how they can be part of the green revolution and what we understand we need to do to help them achieve that.
Q6 John Lamont: Thank you. You said Ros might be able to give us an indication of how many people are expected. Ros, can you give us a figure? Related to that, are you confident that there are enough hotel beds in the Glasgow area to accommodate those people? If not, do you expect people to be staying in the Borders or Dumfries and Galloway or Ayrshire or some other places in Scotland and then travelling in to the event itself?
Ros Eales: At this stage it is hard to predict the exact numbers who will be coming. We are hoping for a large physical kind of COP. Previous events have seen around the 25,000 mark, that is a typical COP, and we are very much planning for that. We are planning for Covid as well and thinking very carefully, working with Scottish Government, respecting that public health is a devolved matter, on how we make that safe.
There is hotel accommodation secured across Glasgow and Edinburgh for COP delegates. We have secured a large number of rooms that we have made available through a portal, which is one of the requirements of the UNFCCC for any host city. We are confident that there is plenty of accommodation there. Edinburgh is a very easy train journey away from Glasgow, and it will be great for Edinburgh to benefit from some of the delegates staying there as well.
Chair: Thank you. We will have to move on. Carol Monaghan from the Science and Technology Committee is our first guest today.
Q7 Carol Monaghan: I am also a Glasgow MP, and I can tell you there is a lot of excitement starting to build in Glasgow about hosting COP26. Minister, how are you involving the Glasgow scientific and academic community in the events and preparations?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thank you, Carol. One of the things that we are doing, really importantly, is working through the COP26 universities network. There are over 55 UK-based universities and research centres, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow and others. We are doing this clearly for our planet, but the next generation and those in the university sector who are the brains of the future, coming up with the solutions, are a central part of that. Perhaps Ros or John can give you more information on the showcasing issues in how the conference itself will help set that out and give a platform for those groups.
Q8 Carol Monaghan: Thanks, that would be helpful. I was about to ask about the showcasing of some of these groups, so maybe Ros or John could pick that up.
Ros Eales: We recently ran an expressions of interest exercise to gather proposals from all sorts of stakeholder groups, including the academic and scientific community, business, civil society, the education sector more broadly, schools, to come forward with proposals for events, exhibitions, talks that people want to showcase and use COP26 as an opportunity to showcase. The UK Government have secured the Glasgow Science Centre, which is across the Clyde from the main event, the Scottish Event Campus where the so-called blue zone—the actual negotiations—will take place. We have secured the Glasgow Science Centre as our green zone, which is our stakeholder space and the opportunity for people to exhibit, run events and talks and so on.
We put out a call for expressions of interest and had nearly 4,000 applications, which was fantastic. We have involved devolved Administration officials in the sift of those. We want to ensure that we have a very broad spectrum of things that we can showcase and space is limited. We are not able to showcase all 4,000 but we want a very good mix of things across different subject areas from different stakeholders and from all parts of the UK as well. That will be our main space in the green zone.
There will be space in the blue zone as well, which is the UNFCCC-managed space. They will open a process for running side events, and I understand that that process will open in a couple of weeks. That will be open to accredited delegates of which observer groups are an important part.
Q9 Carol Monaghan: Thank you. Minister, if I could come back to you quickly, what are the Government doing to maximise the scientific legacy in Glasgow as a result of COP26?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: That is a really important question. So much of the innovative thinking that is coming through our UK universities and business networks to help to achieve net zero and more widely the technologies that are not yet even considered and sold will be a critical part of that legacy. I have no doubt at all that the Glasgow innovation brains will be an absolutely important part of that. I hope very much that with the footprint of COP26 having been in Glasgow, there will be an opportunity for those communities to make great use of that in the years to come. This will be a COP where we want to make sure that we set forward in a practical way the delivery asks and challenges that all countries need to achieve to help us on our journey to net zero.
Chair: Thank you. Can I make an appeal to our witnesses to make their responses a little bit more concise so that we can get more questions to you? There are lots of people here. We come to our second guest, and it is great to have such distinguished one, the Chair of the BEIS Select Committee, Darren Jones.
Q10 Darren Jones: Why didn’t the G7 agree to make up the shortfall in the $100 billion climate aid target that had been previously agreed in Paris?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: As I wasn’t there, I can’t give you a direct answer. I can tell you that we saw some really good movement from major emitters and—
Darren Jones: Sorry, Minister, I need to keep the answer focused on the question. There is a big shortfall with the $100 billion aid commitment at Paris. We have got to only $20 billion so far and no progress was made at G7. Do you not have an answer to that direct question? You don’t know why that was the case.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: There has been a lot of progress. John Murton was more involved in the detail of the conversations and may have more to add, but partly, like a lot of these things, it is a question of timing. The encouragement has been set for countries to put their best foot forward, but we wait to keep pushing on this. It is on the agenda as we move forward.
Darren Jones: Thank you, Minister. I have another question to ask. John, if you have a quick answer that would be great.
Dr Murton: I think we did make quite a bit of progress at the G7. We saw substantial increases in international climate finance from Canada, which is doubling its international climate finance in the same way as the UK has done, from Germany, which is upping its level from €4 billion to €6 billion a year, and Japan has made some technical changes that will result in an increase in their climate finance. We are not at $100 billion yet but we are making good progress towards it, and I do not recognise the $20 billion figure that you cited. I think the most recent statistics are much higher than that.
Q11 Darren Jones: Okay, I need to move on because of time but thank you for that.
Minister, also at the G7 it was agreed that the G7 nations would not be financing new coal power stations overseas, but they did not agree to a date to ending the use of coal in their own countries. It has been reported this morning that you are about to approve a new heavy crude oilfield off the coast of the Shetland Islands. Is this another gap between rhetoric and reality? Do you think our continued use of fossil fuels will make it harder for us when we ask other countries to stop doing so at COP later this year?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: We have set out our clear position on ending direct Government support for fossil fuel energy overseas, including UK Export Finance. We set that out at the end of March and it is in place. Our commitment to phasing out unabated coal power, which we have brought forward to 2024, is a world leading direction. The Powering Past Coal Alliance, which I co-chair with the Canadians, is growing at pace. We now have 123 members, which is fantastic, and we are seeing a rapid decrease in power generation from coal across OECD countries, which is great. This is continuing to be the challenge of leaning in to ask people to come forward with increased ambition and we have to keep driving at that.
The oil is not a new licence. There are no new licences this year. This is an extension of an existing oilfield and the OGA is responsible for managing the licensing system for oilfields. But we have been very clear when I set out the new regulations when we published the North sea transition deal and the proposals for the new licensing system—we are working on that at the moment to make sure that a very focused, scientific-based set of rules is available before any new licences can be issued in the future.
Darren Jones: Thank you.
Q12 Mhairi Black: We know that the UK Government and the Scottish Government have said that there are no plans to delay COP26. Given that the coronavirus can be quite unpredictable at times, is there any flexibility or have there been any discussions about how we can still have the event if rates go through the roof again?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: We continue to monitor Covid—the unpredictable virus that it is, as you say—and it is being monitored by all the relevant parties. But we are working on the basis that COP will happen in Glasgow in November. We are delivering it on behalf of UNFCCC. It is its conference and we are the host nation, so any final decision always sits within their control, but we are working incredibly closely with them, the Scottish Government and delivery partners to make sure that it can go ahead.
Q13 Mhairi Black: Thank you. Is there any contingency plan? Is there any scenario in which they decide that the in-person meeting might be too dangerous and would it switch to virtual? Has there been any discussion about that?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: At the moment we are working absolutely tirelessly and looking across the piece to be able to deliver a safe and successful COP in Glasgow in person. That is absolutely the focus. Many parties see that it is very important to have an inclusive COP, especially the more vulnerable countries, where we have in-person talks. That is absolutely the focus and making sure that we can do it safely.
Q14 Mhairi Black: We know that the UK Government have been trialling major events. How are the outcomes of these trials informing decisions on COP26?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Ros, you are more linked in with the officials and the practical side of things. Do you want to add to that?
Ros Eales: We are working very closely with the public health community not just in England but, crucially, in Scotland as well. We are looking at all the available evidence on what is the most appropriate range of mitigation measures that we should put in place for COP26. We are looking not just in the UK, but we are in touch with WHO on events that are happening around the world to make sure that we have all the measures that will enable us to host a safe and secure COP. That is not just the safety of delegates but, really crucially, the safety of the local community in Glasgow and Scotland as well.
Mhairi Black: Thank you.
Q15 Andrew Bowie: Good morning, Minister. Thank you for coming in front of us this morning. Following on from Mhairi’s question on the conference and attendance, there are some discussions about the lack of availability of vaccines for some of the delegates representing countries where the roll-out has not been, for various reasons, as successful as it has been in Europe or North America. I think that only 51 of the 196 nations have vaccinated even half of their delegates. When you look at where we desperately want the delegates to come from—the countries that are being most affected by changes in climate—only 1% of Africans have been fully vaccinated against Covid. What are the plans for making sure that delegates have access to vaccines so that they are able to represent their countries effectively in person at the conference in Glasgow?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thanks, Andrew. As I have said, we are committed to being able to host an ambitious and inclusive COP, really importantly. We are recommending that those wishing to attend are vaccinated, but it was announced at the G7 that to enable more representatives to attend safely, the UK will work to provide vaccines to the delegations who would be unable to get them otherwise. We are exploring with the UN and partners how we can work together to deliver that offer.
As you point out, we are very aware that access to vaccines is not consistent globally and there are also some groups for whom vaccination is not medically advisable. The approach will respect diversity and inclusion but, most importantly, safeguard the health and safety of all those who are attending and of course the local population. The offer covers all those who are accredited through the UNFCCC to attend COP26, which will include accredited observers and the media from around the world.
Q16 Andrew Bowie: But it is not going to be a requirement for delegates to have had a vaccine to attend?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I don’t know if Ros wants to answer that specifically. I think it is a recommendation at the moment.
Ros Eales: Yes, that is correct. It is a strong recommendation; however it is not a requirement. There are some for whom vaccination is not medically advisable or possible.
Q17 Andrew Bowie: I wonder if we might learn lessons from the Euro 2020 final being held at Wembley and the structures that are being put in place to ensure the safe attendance of representatives from countries across Europe and the world who may or may not have had access to the vaccine yet. Are the COP26 organisers looking at that as an example of how we do the same for the delegates attending COP26 in November?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: To Ros’s earlier point, we are working closely to look at all of those.
Ros Eales: Yes, 100%. Of course we are looking at events that happen before us in the UK and around the world, the mitigation measures they put in place and how they are ensuring the safety of those who attend and those who are hosting them.
Andrew Bowie: Thank you very much.
Chair: We will now move along to our next guest from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Stewart Malcolm McDonald.
Q18 Stewart Malcolm McDonald: Minister, we have just had the G7 summit in Cornwall and the NATO summit in Brussels. They have been two good events for open liberal democracies; let’s hope the third big one is equally good for open liberal democracies.
What is the Government’s assessment of how authoritarian countries go into COP26, particularly given vaccine diplomacy used by countries like Russia and China in trying to secure international alliances for their agendas? What is the Government’s assessment of where countries like that stand ahead of COP?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: John Murton might want to add to this, but we have been very clear that we want this to be the most inclusive COP ever, and we are doing all we can, not only with the health issues, as we have just discussed, but in making sure that all countries can bring their negotiators to the table and that those who want a voice are sharing it.
A lot of the work that I have been focusing on in particular is on gender and thinking about how we shift the dial on making sure that we empower women and girls, indigenous peoples and the disabled to have a much greater voice. We have been doing a lot of work with those groups from across the world to make sure that their voices are heard much more loudly than they have been in the past.
I was in Ghana last week and it was very encouraging to get their sense from where they are sitting that they are hearing that and that we really are giving voice to the communities that have not been heard before. From a practical sense, making sure they are all there, John may want to add something.
Q19 Stewart Malcolm McDonald: John, just before you answer, the crux of the question I am trying to get at is: do the Government see the vaccine diplomacy programmes of countries like China and Russia as having any impact on the outcomes of COP?
Dr Murton: I hesitate to speak directly to that question, but I will flag that the difference between what is sometimes reported in the press on vaccine diplomacy and the realities are notable. The vast majority of vaccines provided around the world in the poorest countries come from COVAX and not from some of the jabs that you might be referring to. I echo everything that Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said but also add that it is the UNFCCC, a UN process, and we do not have authority in dictating who can and cannot come to a UN event.
Q20 Stewart Malcolm McDonald: That is not really the question I am getting at. I am looking for a diplomatic assessment. Are countries that are perhaps hostile to strong action on climate change in a stronger position because of their vaccine diplomacy or not? I take your point entirely that any kind of reward that they might get for their programmes, given the efficacy of some of those vaccines, is likely to be short term rather than long term, but COP is just around the corner. It would be useful to know what the Government’s assessment is of the countries who perhaps don’t share the same urgency as we do on climate change. Are they in a strong position or not?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I think to your point, Stewart, importantly COP is a UN activity and every country has equal voice. They all have teams of negotiators who are invited and expected to be there as part of the negotiations process. The issues will be, as we have set out, about ensuring that those who are coming, the accredited groups, have the vaccines that they need. If for some reason, as you intimate, their country is not in such a good place as others, the UN systems in place to make sure that COP can be inclusive will ensure that those coming have what they need.
This is a UN event and sits above some of the risks that you highlight. We are here to host the UN’s event, and we are doing all the logistics and making sure that it works as smoothly and effectively as possible, but within the vaccine system there is clear support that if there is a need for particular groups to have that we will make sure that they get it.
Q21 Stewart Malcolm McDonald: Sure. Minister, this probably is one for you. After the last COP the agreement was called the Paris Agreement. What will the agreement be called after this COP?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Are you looking for the answer to be the Glasgow Agreement?
Stewart Malcolm McDonald: It had better be the Glasgow Agreement.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: It is a very good question. We don’t know yet what it is, but I hope very much that it will be called the Glasgow Agreement.
Stewart Malcolm McDonald: You do not want to make an enemy of seven Glasgow Members of Parliament.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: No, exactly. That seems like the logical thing. I would defer to John who has lived the COP process much longer than I have but I think that is the usual way, isn’t it, that the host city’s name carries forward?
Dr Murton: If I could clarify one thing, a lot of what we will be doing at Glasgow is working out the implementing rules for the Paris Agreement itself. Glasgow is distinct from Paris in that we are not seeking to renegotiate a new overarching agreement on climate change in the same way as was done at Paris. I want to make that point.
Chair: You have to go and spoil it there.
Stewart Malcolm McDonald: It is like you are trying to dampen my expectations.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: We are not doing a new one. This is really about five years on—well, it is actually six of course—from Paris and whether everybody has got to grips with the agreement they made, which was theoretical at that point. We agreed we are all going to try. Now we are at the first situation of pushing everybody to say so: “Where have you got to? As you submit the next iterations of your nationally determined contributions, what does it look like? where are you making progress?” Now going forward it is all about delivery, delivery, delivery.
Chair: Thank you. It was going so well there, and I thought we had a headline, “The Glasgow Agreement”, but we still have time to work on you on that one, Minister.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: It will be the Glasgow COP forever.
Chair: We now go across to our next guest from the International Development Committee, Chris Law.
Q22 Chris Law: Minister, we have heard serious concerns about the capacity of the least-developed countries to be able to participate in the COPs. You have been saying repeatedly this morning that you want this to be the most inclusive COP ever. How are the UK Government ensuring that the least-developed countries participate fully in the run-up to and at COP26 that is being hosted in Scotland?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: It is a really important question for us and that is very much where my focus has been. For those LDCs and the most vulnerable countries, like the small island developing states for instance, a lot of the challenge is about working out how they can adapt and become resilient to the climate shocks that their countries are suffering from as a result of climate change. Their voices are as important, clearly, as those of the big emitter countries for whom their challenges are changing how they use their energy sources. It is absolutely vital that those voices are heard.
I am going out there and listening to their concerns and helping them to drive forward on their ambitions on adaptation as a key point. Very interestingly, as I am talking to countries there is a sense that, for the first time, adaptation is front and centre on the agenda, and clearly mitigation is a critically important part of what we deliver, but so is everyone understanding what the adaptation piece is about. It is not a single thing like mitigation, which is don’t put CO2 into the atmosphere. Adaptation is much more complex, and a multitude of solutions is required depending on the country. Their voices are really important in this to explain more clearly to major emitters how important it is that they change the way they produce their power.
Championing that inclusivity, which I talk about, is a really practical thing that is empowering vulnerable countries but also amplifying their voices. I refer to my earlier point about women and girls who are at the sharp end of climate shocks—up to 14 times more likely to have adverse impacts from them than men—that those voices are heard loud and clear and their needs and priorities are right up there on the agenda. That is very much part of how we will be focusing COP to make sure that their voices are very clearly heard.
Q23 Chris Law: Thank you. Yesterday we were taking evidence as part of examining the credibility of the UK Government’s direction to climate change and adaptation, and it was raised how difficult it is for small island states to access finance. The way they access it is the same way as large nation states, which makes it incredibly difficult and expensive.
In our last comprehensive report in 2019, the International Development Committee urged the UK Government to explicitly adopt climate justice in its policy making. Notwithstanding the devastating cuts that will undoubtedly impact current climate projects, why have the UK Government failed to adopt an explicit climate justice fund where the Scottish Government has been world leading for almost 10 years?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: We doubled our climate fund spend to £11.6 billion over five years and that has been protected despite the challenging cuts that it has had to take. That continues to be an absolutely key area of focus on how we drive that just transition. The most vulnerable countries will continue to be an absolute focus of all the spending across Government, in BEIS, as we hold a lot of the climate funds, but also in the bilateral and multilateral programme management for which the FCDO now has oversight.
Q24 Chris Law: Are there no plans for an explicit climate justice fund for the future that deals with much more of the issues of the least-developed countries who make so little impact on climate change? There are Government climate change moneys but not for climate justice per se. Do you agree that the UK Government had exchanges in cutting aid by a third because all the G7 countries, which have just been meeting, and also the Scottish Government have increased their aid commitments in this time of a pandemic?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: As I say, we have doubled our climate spending pool and that has been ring-fenced and protected because we consider that to be incredibly importantly. I would have to defer to the FCDO on policy making going forward within their overspend, but there has been and will continue to be a focus on the least-developed countries and small island states where bilateral programmes in particular, but also how we leverage our multinational spending, make sure that it goes to them.
At the end of the day, mitigation is only one part of the Paris Agreement and what we need to do. There are challenges with adaptation and solutions in the work that I am doing, seeing really practical solutions that revolutionise how communities can live with the climate change environments around them from more resilient seeds to better water management. All those issues are important and can be rolled out at pace. That will continue to be, I have no doubt at all, but I defer to FCDO colleagues, an important focus in the years ahead.
Q25 Wendy Chamberlain: Thanks very much for your time this morning, Minister, and to the other witnesses. We had encouraging feedback at a previous session on stakeholder engagement and the arrangements for COP, but the Chair has already referenced the initial difficulties in engagement with the Scottish Government. Given that the devolved ministerial group is meeting quarterly, I am assuming it has had three meetings. Has that helped improve relations and what has the group achieved so far?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I am not directly involved with it, Wendy, but I know that the issues that have been discussed, the presidency’s objectives, the international engagement pieces, domestic stakeholder engagement, all the things that will be important for COP26 itself—I think there has been a lot of work.
A couple of things that I am aware of are developing and distributing packs to engage schools across the whole of the UK, and obviously therefore in Scotland, and the really excellent “Together for our Planet” campaign, that reaches out to everyone who wants to get involved. The pack is really great because it is helping schools to celebrate their own student climate leaders and inspire that action. I keep saying this is so much about them. We are doing all of this because, when you and I are not still here, they will be driving forwards in what will be a different landscape. I think that is a really powerful tool to help engage and empower those voices.
On Ros’s point, we have been encouraging proposals from across the UK for expressions of interest to be able to participate and showcase at COP itself to drive that. I think there is good progress there.
Q26 Wendy Chamberlain: Thank you. I take it that neither of the other two witnesses, Dr Murton or Ms Eales, are involved in that devolved group and cannot provide anything directly?
Ros Eales: It is a group that is chaired by the COP President and the most recent meeting was 10 June where he was able to welcome new Ministers. I think it is important that very early on he has been able to engage with new Ministers. I point towards the structures that sit outside of the devolved Administrations group. In particular, given that this is being held in Scotland, we are working very closely at an official level and a ministerial level with the Scottish Government and the wider set of delivery partners. We have a delivery board, which our CEO chairs. We are in very regular touch with those delivery partners who are so crucial to ensuring that this event is a success. We have very good working relationships with a whole bunch of very experienced delivery partners. Of course Glasgow is a city that has a huge amount of experience in putting on big events successfully. Those relationships and that work is progressing well.
Q27 Wendy Chamberlain: We have heard that previously. Thank you very much. It sounds like we are confident that relations have been improved.
My second question is going back to the Minister. As Chris Law said, we are talking about this being a more inclusive COP, but my understanding is that the ambition from the global community previously was that this was to be a multilevel COP. Can you give me some idea of what the planned involvement is for devolved Administrations and local authorities at COP in November?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I will defer to Ros again. I know that the Scottish Government has a particular part to play in that, but Ros will be able to explain better than I.
Ros Eales: Our vision as COP presidency is that this is an all-of-UK COP and it is really important that we are demonstrating, as the UK, everything that we are doing across the four nations to progress on climate change. In that respect there is a huge part to play at COP for all parts of the UK to showcase what we are doing. Through the expressions of interest process, as I have mentioned, we are hoping to put on a platform of activity and action that is taking place across all of the UK from all different stakeholders. I think what you will see at COP is something that is truly representative of everything we are doing across all parts of the UK.
Q28 Wendy Chamberlain: Thanks very much. Not necessarily at the table in decision making but certainly from a platform perspective.
Ros Eales: Certainly from a platform perspective, yes.
Q29 Douglas Ross: Good morning, Minister, and your officials. What is the current estimate of the cost of COP26?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I will again defer to Ros, if I may, because that is not an area that I am involved in at all.
Ros Eales: Apologies, I just missed the question. I think my internet cut out. Could you repeat that?
Douglas Ross: I understand it is not within the Minister’s remit. It was the estimated cost of COP26 at the moment.
Ros Eales: Budgets are yet to be finalised, so we are still working through those costs at the moment. I can say that value for money remains at the top of our arc of things to watch for. We are using scrutiny and peer reviews to make sure that we look very carefully at costs and making sure that it is offering best value for money.
Q30 Douglas Ross: What ballpark are we looking at?
Ros Eales: I can’t give you a ballpark at the moment because these are still estimated costs.
Q31 Douglas Ross: What are the estimated costs then? Is there just nothing at all you can give the Committee?
Ros Eales: There is nothing that I can give the Committee at this stage. Adding to the uncertainty is Covid and there may be some additional costs related to that, which we need to work through very carefully, but at the moment we are still working very closely with delivery partners and Scottish Government on the estimated costs.
Q32 Douglas Ross: Do we know how much previous COPs have cost other countries? Will it be similar to that? Will it be more because of Covid? Will it be less for any other reasons?
Ros Eales: I am unaware of costs that have been published by specific host cities, and we can go back and look at that, of course. However, every city, every COP is slightly different and this year we have the additional challenge of Covid. We are looking very carefully at those costs and are scrutinising them. We have systems, processes and structures in place to make sure that we are bearing down on costs and ensuring there is best value for money.
Q33 Douglas Ross: I am not trying to be difficult, but it does seem surprising that just a few months out from this conference you are not able to give a parliamentary Committee even a rough estimate of what you are seeking to work towards for overall cost. Is it because it is not within your remit or it has not been finalised yet and Ministers and officials are not allowed to comment on it?
Ros Eales: I think the reason is because these are still estimated costs. We would not want to give you an unrealistic figure at this stage. We want to make sure that we are working very carefully through all the processes, structures, governance, peer reviews and scrutiny that we have set to ensure that we are offering best value for money.
Q34 Douglas Ross: I do understand that they are estimated costs, but you won’t even share those estimated costs with the Committee. It is, therefore, very difficult for us and the other Committees that have joined us today to scrutinise how the COP is being handled and the planning if we are not even told what the estimated costs are.
Ros Eales: I am unable to share those estimated costs. They remain estimated, and elements of the costs may move around because of different elements that we may have to incorporate because of Covid and other reasons as well.
Q35 Douglas Ross: To be absolutely clear, these costs are available, because you call them “estimated” so they have been estimated by someone, but you or the COP organising committee are unwilling or unable to share them with the Committee?
Ros Eales: There is a number of costs that make up the COP budget now and a lot of those costs are being worked through with delivery partners. One of the roles of the COP Unit is working very closely with our delivery partners to refine those costs. It is a process whereby we as the organising unit are working very closely with the Scottish delivery partners and others to work through what they estimate their costs to be, what they will have in place for COP, for example on security and health. We are working through the detail of that with them. Until the detail is worked through and finalised on what will be needed and necessary on the ground to host a safe, secure and successful COP, those costs are moving around or rather are not yet finalised. That is where we are at the moment.
Douglas Ross: I appreciate the answers, but I believe it would be more helpful for elected representatives to even understand a bit more where these costs are moving to and from. I understand it is a slightly moving feast, but I think it would be useful and maybe other Members and other Committees might look at this at a later date. I appreciate the answers given.
Q36 Chair: If there was a request from all the Select Committees to get these estimates, would that be forthcoming to us, given that this is something that is being looked at by Select Committees right across the House?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Chair, I suggest that if you want to write to the COP President, you would always be free to do so and he would assess how he can most effectively support your request.
Chair: Okay, thank you for that.
Q37 Sally-Ann Hart: Good morning to our panel. I want to look at the sustainability of the COP26 conference being held at Glasgow. I know that Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Event Campus have announced measures that they will take to ensure sustainability as far as they can. Bearing in mind the UN’s statement on sustainability and carbon management for COP26, will the UK Government be ensuring that COP26 is carbon neutral? If so, how will that be measured? Secondly, will the Italian Government have any input on this, because it is a shared UK-Italian event?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thanks, Sally-Ann. You are absolutely right. The work to reduce emissions is being carried out through the application of a very robust carbon management plan for the whole event. Where there are unavoidable emissions, they will be offset in line with the COP26 offsetting strategy. That is being looked at literally at the moment and developed with our Government provider for this, EDF. It is literally being thought through as we speak as part of that plan. Perhaps John could help on the Italians. I do not know the answer to that, I am afraid.
Dr Murton: We continue to discuss all these sorts of elements with our Italian colleagues. I can go away and verify—I can’t tell you off the top of my head—if the Italians have made a similar commitment for carbon neutrality for the pre-COP and the youth COP that they will be holding. We can return with that information.
Ros Eales: I can come in here briefly. We are working to achieve certification for the international standard for sustainable events, that is ISO 20121. That looks at all aspects of sustainability across event delivery, waste management, procurement, supply chain, as well as carbon management of course. We are working to meet the UNFCCC’s sustainability requirements for the delivery of COP as well and hoping to go beyond that and looking to see where we might innovate to go beyond those requirements.
Q38 Sally-Ann Hart: We are hoping to get rid of all restrictions by 19 July, but if there are issues with coronavirus in the autumn, will that have an impact on the plans for sustainability?
Ros Eales: In the sense that attendance may be slightly down because people are nervous about travelling or the numbers may be slightly down, I think that would impact from a carbon perspective. On what we are going to set up and build, a lot of what we have to do is plan for the event now, so we are building the structures and letting the procurements. That is where I think the sustainability is really important, that we are hardwiring it into our planning right now and working really closely with delivery partners on how they are being as sustainable as possible and thinking about carbon. It is an issue that is completely live now, so by the time we get to November it is kind of baked in.
Q39 Sally-Ann Hart: Thank you. Will the fringe events be included in the main sustainability plan, or will there be a separate plan for fringe events? How will they be managed?
Ros Eales: Fringe events are outwith HMG’s control. They are not officially part of what we as event organisers are responsible for. We are very keen, however, to share our learnings and to share what we are doing with organisations who are putting on their own events around Glasgow at the same time. We are working very closely with Glasgow City Council who is responsible for licensing those events and run many of the venues. We are working hand in glove with them.
Q40 Sally-Ann Hart: Will it be the responsibility of Glasgow City Council to produce guidance for people who are putting on fringe events?
Ros Eales: I think you would have to ask Glasgow City Council that. It is certainly responsible for any licensing requirements. Those events are the responsibility of the organisations who are hosting them. As I said, we are very keen to spread the knowledge and the expertise that we are learning and developing through this process and make sure that we are spreading that wide and learning from others as well.
Chair: We will now go across to our second Select Committee Chair guest this morning and that is Neil Parish from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Neil, you are more than welcome.
Q41 Neil Parish: Thank you very much for allowing me in to the Committee this morning; it is a pleasure. Minister, thank you for being here. The EFRA Committee recently concluded in a report that there should be more effort made by Government to encourage the public sector to buy British food and drink and benefit the environment by reducing food miles. My straight question is: what is going to happen about COP26? How much food can we get directly from Scotland and then—dare I say it, Pete—we can probably allow a little bit across the English border and from Wales and Northern Ireland? Let’s make sure that the delegates are eating British food, please. What are you going to do about it, Minister, please?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Neil, I think that is an absolutely worthy ambition and one that we all support. On the practicalities of delivery, Ros, I don’t know if you have got to the detail of that in your processing for the conference yet but perhaps you can help the Chair of the EFRA Committee.
Ros Eales: Yes, we are absolutely looking at this very carefully and are keen to ensure that as high a percentage of food as possible is sourced locally. It cuts down on the air miles, but of course there is some fantastic produce from Scotland and its environs. I don’t have an exact figure to share with you at this stage, but I hope to do so in the near future as we pin down those details. I can assure you that it is something we are looking at very carefully.
Q42 Neil Parish: As we move towards doing the COP26, if we were aware, dare I say, what the menus were going to be, we could make sure that we use more local food. By the end of the year, in autumn, we will have a lot of our own fruit and vegetables available. If I may be so bold, why don’t we get the menu right and then we can deliver more Scottish and British food into the conference? We need to lead by example as a Government and that is why I am so keen on this. It is not just a bolt-on. It should be an essential, so can you give me and the Select Committees your assurance on that, please?
Ros Eales: Absolutely. It is something we are looking at very carefully. I completely agree that menus are really important. We are also looking to use Scottish and British produce in international dishes, because we need to cater to a wide variety of people who will be coming to COP. We want to use Scottish beef and vegetables, for example, in international dishes as well. It is something that we are looking at very carefully with our suppliers and our caterers.
Q43 Neil Parish: Finally, Minister, can I seek your assurances that you will put every effort into making sure British food is well and truly on the menu and that not too much that has travelled too far is on the menu, please?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Absolutely. You know that I am already personally very committed to this. Do you think we might allow some Northumbrian produce across the border or is that too far to travel? Clearly Northumberland has a wonderful array of produce as well. I think there is a very clear commitment and I will take that away and make sure that I share your view, and probably those of all of our colleagues, with CPD as he homes in on the detail of menus. I am hoping that for now he has delegated the responsibility to someone who has excellent catering skills to think through, but I will take that away and make sure he is fully conversant with the passion with which we want to ensure that during the conference.
Neil Parish: Many thanks and you will be allowed food from Northumberland. I imagine we will try to get some up from Devon and Cornwall as well, and Somerset, I suspect, but anyway, thank you, Minister, very much for those comments. I look forward to this food being on the menu. I shall look to check it when it happens. Thank you very much.
Chair: Thank you, Neil. I think we are all hungry already for success at COP26. Thank you for that.
Q44 Deidre Brock: Thanks, Chair. Good morning, Minister, Ms Eales and Dr Murton. The Committee for Climate Change said in its recent report on adaptation that the UK Government were woefully unprepared to deal with changes occurring to the climate. The report says the Government are even worse prepared than they were five years ago and most recently, infamously, the green homes grant scheme was scrapped. Is that the right example to set to other countries, when you are conducting diplomatic efforts, trying to persuade them to sign up to further carbon reduction targets?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I think we are making enormous progress ourselves. We are world leading in the mitigation targets and delivery that we have set. We have seen a huge decrease, 40%, in our emissions while seeing our economy continue to grow substantially over the last decade, and I think that continues to be so. As we roll out the huge number of next stages from the energy White Paper that we published in December, and the greater details of how we are helping our businesses and our consumers to be part of the net zero revolution, we are world leading, from the heavy industrial decarbonisation programmes, which are held in BEIS, through to the electric vehicles revolution, which is coming upon us quickly. The 2030 deadline will see a step change in emissions from vehicles, which is an enormously chunky part of that. Shortly we will be publishing the heat and building strategy, which will take on the 20% of emissions that come from heat and buildings. A huge amount of work is being done.
To your point about the green homes grant, and helping individuals and families to be part of the contribution to reducing our emissions, the focus continues to be very much on the poorest homes and the local authority schemes. Local authorities know where their social housing stock needs efficiency improvements. There is a huge focus on that, and that fund continues to grow. As the heat and building strategy is published, we will see a wider set of next stages where we want to help to encourage and support those who need to take on their own owner-occupier homes.
Q45 Deidre Brock: All right. Thank you, Minister. Further to my point, Dr Murton, are you getting any kickback from countries you are visiting around the world on that issue?
Dr Murton: No, that is not an issue we are facing kickback from. As the Minister said, we have world-leading mitigation efforts. I don’t think there is a country that has set a more ambitious mitigation target than the 78% reduction characterised in the Sixth Carbon Budget proposals. The work of the Minister and others in pushing adaptation internationally is widely recognised.
Q46 Deidre Brock: Minister, returning to the green homes grant scheme, as we have established it was scrapped earlier this year. I have heard that described as having been one of the very few big weapons in the Government’s arsenal as they try to achieve their carbon reduction target. When will we be hearing of a new version of that scheme?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: The continuing activity with local authorities has not stopped. It continues to have further funding as it moves forward. The short-term stimulus that the Chancellor put in place last summer has issued, I think, nearly 27,000 vouchers—I might be wrong about that and I can get you the precise figure—worth over £150,000 million. That has been a very helpful step change. We will continue to fund the £500 million worth of work that is being delivered through the local authority scheme, driving that funding this summer and next.
We are doing an enormous number of things, particularly in that first iteration, which is the way I look at it, which is making the energy that we can all tap into green. We have been world beating in that. There has been a huge investment in offshore wind over the last decade and in solar, to a point where the outputs we are getting from both, and the decarbonisation of our heavy industrial clusters, are world leading. We are doing a huge amount to move all the parts of this big puzzle forward to make sure that we continue to be at the world-leading end of delivering net zero.
Q47 Deidre Brock: You will be aware, of course, Minister, that nearly one third of UK greenhouse gas emissions are caused by housing, so a replacement scheme is considered by environmental groups to be very important. A large chunk of money has disappeared and as of yet there has been no replacement for it.
I will move on to something that Ms Eales touched on recently, although I will probably direct the question first to the Minister. We have heard from the official housing agency that the Government have contracted with that accommodation prices for the COP26 conference have soared and there are corresponding concerns about the impact this will have on attendance. We heard from Visit Scotland that other events held in Scotland had agreements in place to keep accommodation costs stable. That does not seem to have been the case here. What is the value of the Government’s contract with the official housing agency MCI Group? Ms Eales, perhaps you have that knowledge.
Ros Eales: I don’t have that number to hand. I would have to get back to you on that. We have secured around one third of the market availability of hotel rooms in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. I think we are confident that the terms and conditions being offered through the MCI portal are market led and are comparable to what is available in the market. We have heard concerns from delegates about some of those terms and conditions and some of the pricing. As hosts, we are confident that we have secured the best available deal out there at the moment.
Deidre Brock: Chair, can we, as the Committee, ask that the Minister or Ms Eales write to us with details of that contract, outlining the terms and conditions? That would certainly be very helpful for me. It was reported by the press that the official hotel portal for the COP26 gathering was charging visitors up to £888 a night for budget accommodation for which the rate is usually as low as £50. It is a matter of huge concern, and I think the Committee would be interested in hearing further details about that.
Chair: I think we would. Thank you for that, Deidre. I am sure we will get a commitment from the Minister that the information will be sent to this Committee. Thank you. We now go across to our guest from the Environmental Audit Committee. It is pleasure to welcome Barry Gardiner.
Q48 Barry Gardiner: Minister, you are responsible for adaptation and resilience but there are some things that you cannot adapt to. For Fiji and Tonga, whose MPs I met with yesterday, climate change is an existential threat. They are being submerged. They need Glasgow to focus on loss and damage. They have lost 19% of their GDP as a result of Covid and they have no capacity for additional debt. They are desperate for affordable concessional finance just to meet their existing NDCs and yet in answer to Darren Jones’s question about the $100 billion, you said it was a question of timing. It is. The $100 billion was promised to be delivered by 2020 and we are a year late. What is the UK doing to deliver the $20 billion missing from the $100 billion that was promised and what are you doing to ensure that loss and damage is properly addressed with separate and additional funds?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thank you, Barry. The $100 billion question is one that we are putting a huge amount work into. To Darren’s point earlier, which was about the G7 summit, we continue to see a level of commitment and growth, as John Murton highlighted, from a number of countries, with Canada and Germany making step changes in their own commitments. It continues to be an area on which we have an enormous amount of focus. You are absolutely right, for the most vulnerable countries, the challenge of how they can make those adaptive solutions is a critical one. That is what we have been very focused on in the work I am doing, very focused on ensuring that their voices are very clearly heard. The adaptation pillar is one that is absolutely front and centre, part of all the negotiation discussions, so that, to exactly that point, we are able to harness the $100 billion funds from across the donor countries but are also thinking about how we provide support with practical solutions. That is one of the many conversations I have had with developing and most-vulnerable countries: what are the solutions that we need to help them with to be able to deliver for their own systems.
Q49 Barry Gardiner: At the moment, they cannot even deliver on their own, what we would say are modest, NDCs and they cannot do that because they cannot get access to the concessional finance that they need. You say the $100 billion. There is no $100 billion. It is $80 billion that has been delivered, according to the OECD in November last year, and we are now a year late. We are a year late in delivering what we promised. There is no confidence among those countries that we are asking to step up and deliver, so increase their NDCs, but there is no confidence that the resource is available to help them to do it. They think, “If you, as the developed world, are not prepared to stick to your promises, why do you expect us to stick to ours?”
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: It is a central push of ours, as part of the G7 presidency right now but also more widely with our COP presidency, to push the other donors to make good on their commitments. Of course, the US has recently doubled its climate finance from previous levels, which is great, in their first multi-year commitment, and, to your point, have pledged to treble their adaptation finance and that is a big step forward. I was very encouraged by that. It is below what our asks have been—and perhaps John Murton can add to that—below what we would consider is a fair share contribution from the US, but we continue to push for that.
Interestingly, it was one of the issues at the climate and development ministerial that we hosted recently, underscoring exactly your point, our commitment to action on debt and access to finance. It is one of the issues that is most regularly raised with me. We are working with the FCDO on a taskforce to access climate finance, to get to grips with why, as you say, the small, developing countries have been struggling for too long.
Q50 Barry Gardiner: They are asking not just for that. They are also asking that we should put centre stage, in Glasgow, the question of loss and damage, which has bedevilled the negotiations for over a decade. Politically, do you not feel that that is essential? If we are going to make the breakthroughs that we want to make on increased NDCs, in ratcheting up, do you not believe that we have to listen, and not just listen but act on what they are saying about loss and damage?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I agree. We are working—it is one of the key tenets of what we are doing—to operationalise the Santiago network, which was set up but is not yet active, if that is the right word. We are working very closely with others—perhaps John Murton can speak to it—to make sure that it is operationalised and becomes an effective tool to meet the loss and damage challenge. John, I don’t know if you want to add to that.
Dr Murton: I have some general comments. In all our diplomacy, we have been pushing very hard on climate finance. We are seized of the need to meet the $100 billion goal. Mr Gardiner is right in saying that it has not been met yet, according to the OECD’s latest figures, but we continue to work hard on it, and we are closing the gap. We are working with donor countries, not only through our embassies around the world, pushing donors to make larger commitments, to make multi-year commitments, as predictability enables access to finance, but also, in many cases, to push for an increased share of climate finance to be dedicated to adaptation so that it is accessible by the poorest countries that are most affected by climate change, as you have pointed out.
We are also working hard to crowd more private finance into the climate sphere, particularly where it is more easily done in mitigation, so that there is more money available for adaptation efforts, as has been described, but also working with the financial sector to see how we can crowd private sector finance into the sphere of adaptation.
However, one of the realities of the climate debate is that the vulnerable countries that we have been at pains to engage with and travel to—and you have seen the COP President designate travelling to Nepal, Gabon, Egypt and Iran—
Chair: Sorry, John. I am conscious of time. We have to move on, but thank you for that. The last guest this morning is Alison Thewliss from the Treasury Committee.
Q51 Alison Thewliss: I want to ask some questions about the benefits to businesses in Glasgow from COP. First, what are the criteria for exhibiting at COP?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: Thank you, Alison. If I may, I will delegate that question to Ros Eales, who is knee deep in all this stuff.
Ros Eales: The blue zone, which is the main UNFCCC site, is managed by the UNFCCC. It is their site. There is space for side events and UNFCCC is putting out a proposal for people to bid in for them. However, that space, and the opportunity to host a side event, is limited to those who are registered and accredited delegates to the UNFCCC and to the COP26 conference itself. The registration process is handled by the UNFCCC.
HMG is setting up the green zone, which is in the Glasgow Science Centre. We opened, and have now closed, the expressions of interest process and we have a number of proposals in. The green zone is HMG’s main space, our opportunity to showcase activities, action, and exhibitions from a range of stakeholders, but the main blue zone site is owned and managed by the UNFCCC. We have some space within the blue zone. We have a UK pavilion—other countries will host their own pavilions—and we will have the opportunity to run events through the UK pavilion. We are currently working on that.
Q52 Alison Thewliss: The reason I ask is because I have been meeting with a business in my constituency, Katrick Technologies, which is working on cutting-edge technology that will have an impact on emissions reduction and energy efficiency, reducing energy use, and they have found it very difficult to get anywhere near. They applied and were rejected. They did not have any feedback as to why they were not accepted. It seems to be a missed opportunity if businesses in Glasgow that are innovating and doing brilliant things do not get the opportunity in their own city to showcase the work they are doing.
Ros Eales: We received 4,000 applications, a huge number, and we had to go through them very carefully, balancing subject matter and stakeholder groups. We want to ensure that it is not just business but civil society, academia, schools and so on that are represented and we have to juggle that, along with representation from all parts of the UK. We had to make some difficult decisions.
There will be opportunities across the rest of the city—other organisations are putting on fringe events—and we have directed people to some of those other relevant opportunities, those run by Glasgow City Council for example, and the Scottish Government are putting on some events as well. We have tried to be helpful, directing people where possible, but ultimately we are trying to balance a number of things and unfortunately space is limited.
Q53 Alison Thewliss: Is exhibition space within the UK Government’s purview something that people have to pay to participate in? Is there a fee?
Ros Eales: No.
Q54 Alison Thewliss: On a different issue, you mentioned schools in what you were saying about engagement. In all the events that Glasgow has run over the past few years, Glasgow City Council has been very keen to ensure that there has been some benefit to school pupils within the city. For example, if it holds a badminton sports event, students can get tickets to meet the badminton stars and play alongside them. What kinds of opportunities are there for engagement with young people in the city from COP?
Ros Eales: The Minister has mentioned the schools pack, which we have recently distributed. It has a lot of materials for people to engage with. The green zone, the Glasgow Science Centre, will be open to the public and we will encourage school groups and schoolchildren to apply for tickets and come along and experience COP from the green zone perspective. It will be open to the general public.
Q55 Alison Thewliss: When was the pack that the Minister referred to sent out?
Ros Eales: I believe it was sent out a few weeks ago, but I can double check and get back to you on that.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: It should have come out, Alison. It went to all colleagues as well. It is very comprehensive. There is a lot in it, lots of things about what we as MPs can do to engage with our schools to encourage them to get to grips with what the climate change subject matters mean for them.
Alison Thewliss: That is useful.
Q56 Chair: One issue we want to touch on is the policing arrangements. We took very useful evidence from Police Scotland in an earlier session. The police have estimated that policing arrangements for COP might cost up to £200 million. We have some of the biggest, most high-profile political leaders in the world coming to COP26 and that may even include His Holiness, the Pope. Will you guarantee, Minister, that Police Scotland and the Scottish Government will be fully compensated for all the police costs, if they are in that region, and will any other costs accrued by the Scottish Government also be met by the UK Government?
Anne-Marie Trevelyan: I know this is an area that the team has been involved in. Ros, do you want to update the Chair on where you are on this?
Ros Eales: We have an agreement with our delivery partners that we will be paying for all marginal costs for the conference, so we can certainly provide that assurance. We are working very closely with Police Scotland, and I hope they would say the same, that we have a good working relationship, including on budget matters and are working through exactly what will be needed on the ground to keep people safe and secure.
Q57 Chair: What are you anticipating in the way of demands on Police Scotland? Is there any sort of planning? We are surely anticipating that there will be some sort of activity around the streets of Glasgow when COP is occurring.
Ros Eales: We are fully expecting protest activity. That is completely normal for COP. I believe it has become traditional, if we can say that, for there to be a climate march on the middle weekend. The police are aware of that. Police Scotland is in very close touch with their UNFCCC security counterparts. I believe Police Scotland has been in touch other police forces that have previously hosted COP and I think have a good idea about the types of activity to be expected.
Chair: Thank you. There are a couple of outstanding issues. One is that I think we could all agree that this will be the Glasgow Agreement or at least the “Glasgow Accord”. We will see if we can make some progress on that, shall we, Minister? I think there are also outstanding issues around costs, and I have suggested that the Select Committee Chairs—I know there are a couple present—may want to write to ask if we can see estimates at least, just to give us some sort of idea and indication of how much all this is costing.
Thank you ever so much. We have managed to get through this with an extended Committee and on time, which is almost unbelievable for Select Committees. I thank you for your very concise and considered responses and I thank colleagues for helping to ensure that everybody was able to ask their questions. That concludes the first part of today’s proceedings.