It would be difficult to find a more “Glasgow” place than The Barras.
The area, east of Glasgow city center, is home to the popular weekend market and the iconic Barrowland Ballroom.
It has survived war, fires, and remodeling. Time will tell if the area and the city will survive the threat on everyone’s mind: climate change.
It’s less than three miles from the high-level talks at COP26, and people in cafes, shops, and event spaces are talking about it.
Alan Duff, Co-Owner of Bill’s Tool Store
Bill’s Tool Store is a landmark at The Barras. It has been in Alan’s family for three generations and celebrates its 75th anniversary next year.
He wants the promises of COP26 to be fulfilled.
He said, “I think what they’re trying to do is great … if they do it. If this is the 26th, what has happened in the other 25 that hasn’t worked?”
“I think we dropped the penny at home, looking at all the plastics we use certainly made my family realize that we have to do more.”
He says he would like to reduce the carbon footprint of the business, but it is complicated.
“The problem we have is that more than 90% of what people buy from us is made in China or India and until these countries do something, we are stuck,” he said.
“We don’t make enough in this country right now so we don’t have control over it. We try to buy local and British products whenever we can, but there are very few suppliers.”
Keith Pittaway, tour bus driver
Parked on his tour bus outside the Barrowland Ballroom Music Venue is driver Keith Pittaway.
He knew COP26 was happening in Glasgow when he brought the Easy Life band into town for their concert.
Keith says many of the acts he carries are concerned about the weather and the consequences for touring.
But you still don’t see a solution.
“Don’t forget you’re sitting in a 26-ton bus that uses one gallon for every ten miles, but that doesn’t matter to you because you have to go from A to B.
And he adds: “These things are never going to run 700 km a day on electricity. It just isn’t going to happen.”
Michael Woods, Owner Saint Luke’s and The Winged Ox
Saint Luke’s is a newer music venue and bar just around the corner from Barrowland. It has quickly established itself in the hearts of Glasgow music lovers. I was hoping to get a boost from COP26, but people have been avoiding the city.
Owner Michael believes this has been a missed opportunity.
“The courier has told people to stay away from the city, but I think that’s a mistake. I think they should have accepted the event and the visitors. People come to Glasgow, but no one is in Glasgow to do so.” .
He thinks many Glasgow locals have felt a bit detached from what is happening at the COP26 conference.
“We had a fringe festival called Beyond The Green over the weekend related to sustainability and building products. But we put it all on ourselves. I think they missed a trick not to get everyone else in town involved. “.
Sheran Lang, Owner Reeta Fashions
Reeta Fashions is another Barras institution, outfitting Glasgow brides for the past 70 years.
Owner Sheran is proud that her city hosted COP26 and brought her 10-year-old daughter to the climate rally last weekend.
“She knows everything about climate change, they have been learning it in school and I think it is important for her to understand it. I think it is very positive for the city.
“The big caravans were a bit uncomfortable to watch though, because that doesn’t really represent climate change.”
Sheran is aware of the damage that the fashion industry does to the environment and is happy to see that his industry is changing.
“A lot of our suppliers are changing the way fabrics are made to make them more environmentally friendly, which is fantastic.”
Denise from Dengy’s Deli
Denise serves “bagels, sausages, and jokes” on the eastern edge of town. The only thing you have noticed about COP26 in the city is that the city and even the Barras have been quiet, even on weekends, when it is usually the busiest time.
“For my children and their children, I am concerned about climate change,” he says. “It bothers me to see billionaires go into space when there is so much more that can be done to improve things on this planet.
“I know this is up to all of us, so I am a huge recycler. I buy all the different recycling bags from the city hall to make sure we recycle correctly.”
Georgia Elliot Smith from Ella Changes the Weather
Unbeknownst to the locals, some COP26 activities are just a few meters from them. Around the corner from Dengy’s, at the Pipe Factory headquarters, there is a session exploring how to get more women to participate in the COP negotiations.
Georgia Elliot-Smith is a former UNESCO Youth Special Envoy for Youth and the Environment. She is part of a group called Ella Changes the Climate that is trying to see at least 50% representation of women at the head table of climate negotiations; 90% at this time are men.
She said: “We have had 25 previous POPs and yet carbon emissions keep increasing; we feel we need a different mindset, a different perspective, some diversity to find different solutions because what we have been doing is not working.”
“We wanted to be real and part of the community and bring people to a different Glasgow, bring women together from all over the world to see what we can do.”
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