Banner photo credit: Duncan McGlynn

The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31st October to 13th November 2021. Glasgow was centre stage for the Conference events but many fringe events were organised to encourage anyone and everyone to get involved with COP26.

The ACT Team were privileged to be involved with COP26 related events in Argyll and Glasgow. In this blog we will give you a summary of our activities across a busy fortnight.

SSEN Transmission Biodiversity Net Gain Seminar, Glasgow.

ACT Development Manager, Julie Young, was invited to join a panel of experts at the SSEN (Scottish and Southern Energy Network) Biodiversity Net Gain Seminar. The panelists represented a diverse range of interests and experiences in biodiversity. They were brought together to discuss why protecting and enhancing biodiversity and tackling the climate emergency go hand in hand, as well as the role of businesses in achieving biodiversity net gain (an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before).   

The panel was chaired by Lang Bank, Director of WWF Scotland. Julie was joined on the panel by: 

  • Chris Packham, wildlife expert, TV presenter, author and conservationist
  • Lorna Slater, Scottish Government Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity (joined virtually)
  • Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive, NatureScot
  • Julia Baker, Biodiversity Technical Specialist, Balfour Beatty
  • Richard Baldwin, Head of Consents and Environment, SSEN Transmission
L-R: Lang Bank, Chris Packham, Francesca Osowska, Lorna Slater (on screen), Julia Baker, Julie Young, Richard Baldwin Julie with Chris Packham

The event started with a welcome video from SSEN Transmission about their commitment to Biodiversity Net Gain (featuring our very own Julie Young and Ian Dow) followed by introductions from the panelists and questions from the audience. The overall aim of the event was to discuss business' role in achieving biodiversity net gain, to highlight SSEN's commitment to this, and to open the discussion about what other developers could be doing. Julie represented ACT and the community voice - she was keen to look at the big national statements from a local perspective and to see how local communities can lock the financial benefits of large developments within Argyll, thus achieving their full social and environmental value. She highlighted the importance of long term funding, and the importance of the sustained and strategic approach required if significant biodiversity improvements are to be achieved. 

Julie thoroughly enjoyed the experience and said "It was brilliant to share the stage with the rest of the panel, without doubt the most high profile thing I've ever done, and fantastic to have the opportunity to draw attention to ACT and the work we are doing. I really was impressed with all that the panelists and chair had to say, and actually felt quite disappointed when the discussions finished - there were lots of questions from the audience that we had no time to respond to." 

Julie also added, "This was a big moment for ACT and one that I'm hopeful we can build on." 

The event was recorded and can be watched back here:

SSEN Transmission Biodiversity Net Gain Seminar (

Rainforest Blessing at Cormonachan Community Woodland

Association Jiboiana during the blessing. Photo credit: Liz Murdoch

Ian Dow (ACT Woodland Co-ordinator) and Julie Young were invited to attend a sacred ritual at Cormonachan Community Woodlands performed by a group of indigenous people from the Amazonian tropical rainforest. The group,  from Association Jiboiana, were a delegation from the tribal lands of the Brazilian Peruvian border region. The event was led by Raleigh International with support from Woodland Trust Scotland and Plantlife Scotland to give Association Jiboiana a platform during COP26 – and to raise awareness of Scotland’s rainforest. The blessing involved movement and chanting and eye-catching traditional feathered dress. Ian went along to learn from and connect with the people of the Amazon rainforest who are experiencing the deforestation of their homeland that Scotland experienced hundreds of years ago. Cormonachan Woodland is an example of temperate rainforest. Scotland's temperate rainforest is as important as tropical rainforest but much less well known. The majority of the remaining rainforest in Scotland is in Argyll and is under threat.  

Ian was captivated by the experience. For him, the highlight was seeing "the powerful human connection that was made, and the realisation that this connection can bridge language, the oceans and time." Ian's take-home message was, "we are a global community, facing a global crisis. We can only make a difference by coming together as one voice." This echoes the thoughts of Association Jiboiana who said, We are convinced that great changes won’t come from the top but from the grassroots - meaning us, the people, activists, whistle blowers, and simple citizens.”  

Argyll and Bute Challenge Climate Change Event, Helensburgh

Julie Young and Jamie Joyce (ACT Now project officer) attended the Challenge Climate Change event in Helensburgh to highlight the work of ACT, particularly the ACT Now project which aims to enable and empower communities to take action in climate change. The overall aim of the event was to promote family friendly activities and demonstrate how Argyll and Bute residents can live climate-friendly lifestyles to support Argyll and Bute becoming the first Net Zero region in the UK. Jamie and Julie shared information on food waste reduction, promotion of eCargo bikes through trials and demonstrations, and developing upskilling through access to tools and resources that the ACT Now project can provide. Jamie said he enjoyed talking to the attendees about how they can get involved with ACT and said there was great enthusiasm from everyone throughout the day. He added, "It was rewarding to see a message from all speakers, workshops and stall holders emphasising the co-benefits of taking action on climate change. I believe all visitors could see the economic and social benefits in taking climate action."

Jamie Joyce demonstrating bike repairs

Carbon Literacy Action Day

Jamie Joyce and the ACT Now project also participated in the Carbon Literacy Action Day, the largest ever live climate action training event, on the first day of COP26. Jamie delivered accredited Carbon Literacy training on climate change to several ACT staff and community leaders throughout Argyll and Bute. Carbon literacy is "an awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions on an individual, community and organisational basis". After the training, Jamie attended an online event where the Carbon Literacy Project was doing a global tour of training events, linking with COP26 delegates. Jamie contributed on behalf of the ACT Now project alongside other training organisations from Australia, India and other parts of the UK. Jamie continues to organise training events for carbon literacy so if you would like more information please get in touch: [email protected].

Jamie delivering the Carbon Literacy Training online

Argyll and Bute Council's Education Summit

The Education Summit was an online event organised by Argyll and Bute Council's Education department. Julie Young, Ian Dow, Jamie Joyce and Angharad Ward all delivered online presentations as part of the two-day programme of events coming from throughout Argyll. The presentations were aimed at pupils and families across Argyll to give them some insight into what is happening about climate change within the area and who is involved with each initiative. The ACT team talked about Argyll's rainforest, peatland restoration and the ACT Now project. Julie said, "It was surprisingly nerve wracking delivering to an unseen and unknown audience...It was great to highlight the work we are doing and to have a younger audience to share our passion for protecting and improving our environment". 

Stitches for Survival Scarf

Our youngest contributors to COP26 were MAKI Pups, ACT's Outdoor Nursery, who took part in a massive craftivism (craft + activism!) project for COP26. Children and staff stitched a panel that was added to the Stitches for Survival Scarf which conveyed environmental messages. The scarf that includes the MAKI Pup's “Seagrass panel” was on display at Glasgow Green during the climate summit. The giant scarf included contributions from all over the world and was stitched together to reach 1.5 miles long, to reflect the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5C. Once the display is over, the creators plan to repurpose the scarf to create blankets and art installations. 

MAKI Pups chose to stitch a panel to highlight the marine feature Seagrass. Seagrass is a biodiversity hot-spot and important carbon sink as well as being a “nursery” for many marine species. Local charity have established a community-led project to restore Seagrass meadows in Loch Craignish.

MAKI Pups with their Seagrass panel

So, as you can see, it has been a busy time for the ACT Team. Everyone was thrilled to be involved with COP26 and to spread the word about ACT's projects and activities to residents of Argyll and Bute and further afield. Now it's time to build on these experiences and to move on to our next phases of project work and enterprise, with hopefully a few more people knowing about what we do to make a difference and what they can do to make a difference too.