All you need to know about the city of Glasgow and the climate conference facilities.
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, but not its capital, which is its rival Edinburgh. At one point Glasgow was the 'second city' of the British Empire. It grew rapidly due to its position on the west coast of Scotland which enabled trade with the Americas - cotton and tobacco. Later its proximity to coalfields enabled the industrial revolution where Glasgow became preeminent in engineering, textiles and shipbuilding. St Mungo is the patron saint of Glasgow, buried in Glasgow Cathedral.
Glasgow City Council, the host city, is headquartered in an iconic building on George Square in the centre of Glasgow. The City Chambers includes a huge marble staircase, built on the wealth of Empire.
The climate conference itself is hosted on the banks of the River Clyde. The main United Nations area (the Red zone) is north of the Clyde with the Science Centre on the south side (the Green zone) managed by the UK Government and hosting country pavilions, commercial exhibitions and other events.
The Scottish Event Campus (Red zone) consists of the main Exhibition Halls (currently a temporary National Health Centre facility), the Armadillo (yes, it looks like the armour of a South American armadillo) and the iconic SSE Hydro. 'SSE' stands for Scottish and Southern Energy and is one of the COP26 main sponsors alongside Scottish Power and others. The giant Finnieston Crane towers over the site – a symbol of Glasgow’s industrial past. It was used to load steam locomotives onto ships to be exported around the world.
The Millennium Bridge is a footbridge connecting the Red and Green zones across the River Clyde. Nearby is the Clyde Arc, affectionately known to locals as the ‘squinty bridge’ because it crosses the river at an angle.
Many visitors from overseas will arrive at nearby Glasgow airport, or Edinburgh airport a short coach journey away. Other visitors are likely to arrive at one of the two main railway stations – Central Station or Queen Street Station. Nearby is the statue to the Duke of Wellington always topped by a traffic cone – a symbol of the sense of humour of Glaswegians.
Glasgow is bisected by the M8 motorway, with the Kingston Bridge over the Clyde being one of the busiest road bridges in Europe. But, it also has an impressive public transport network of local trains, buses and a circular subway route, known as the 'clockwork orange' that connects the city centre to the climate conference (use the Exhibition Centre station). The centre of Glasgow is very walkable. There are self guided walking tours including the Medieval city, a tour of murals and a tour of Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings.
The two main shopping streets are Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street; with several city centre shopping centres - Princes Square, St Enoch Centre and Buchanan Galleries and Argyll Arcade which sells jewellery. There are of course many pubs and restaurants. The Merchant City is good for nightlife. Fish and chips is a favourite takeaway meal. As well as whisky, beer is popular. The Tenant’s brewery is open to visitors.
There are many visitor attractions including Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow Cathedral and neighbouring Necropolis graveyard, Riverside Museum (transport), the People’s Palace (Glasgow history) and the Waverley paddle steamer. The Hunterian Museum (geology) is hosted within the University of Glasgow – founded in 1451 and now a centre of excellence for research. Its rival, Strathclyde University focuses on engineering and is a comparative newcomer, founded in 1796!
In the summer Glasgow averages a maximum of 20oC with 20 hours of daylight. November is perhaps not the best time to visit Glasgow as a tourist. The average maximum temperature is 7oC, with 16 days rainfall and less than 2 hours of sunshine on average. Rain is a good thing of course – Glasgow has some of the best tasting drinking water in the world, collected in Loch Katrine within the nearby Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Whatever the weather, you are guaranteed a warm welcome if you come to Glasgow for COP26 – after all Glasgow’s brand slogan is “People Make Glasgow”.
If you have enjoyed this blog, you might enjoy my book, Carbon Choices on the common sense solutions to our climate and nature crises. Available direct from me or http://www.carbonchoices.uk/index.php/buy. I am donating one third of profits to rewilding projects.