Responding to COP26, helping to build Glastonbury’s resilience

COP26 may have been a disappointment, but we are not powerless to respond to the climate and ecological emergency, individually, and collectively. Glastonbury Town Council (GTC) is one of 9,000 Town and Parish councils, with 80,000 councillors, serving 16 million people, with £1billion. That is a lot of collective power, and Glastonbury is aiming to be one of those leading the way.

GTC took part in a series of events during COP26, which showcased progress, and invited local people and organisations to share their own wonderful projects, ideas, and questions.

Proceedings kicked off on Nov 3rd, with a well-attended evening of talks and discussion, at the Town Hall. We heard from four speakers: Cllr Jon Cousins, Mayor of Glastonbury, set the context, and told us about achievements in Glastonbury so far; Climate Emergency & Resilience Officer, Melissa Taylor, shared the five areas of work that GTC are focussing on; Marine Zoologist, Dr Michael White shared his experiences of climate change in Polynesia; and Unite Regional Officer, Gareth Lowe, spoke to us about the importance of green jobs and a just transition. This was followed by some lively discussion, prompted by questions from the audience.

SCOP26+ Somerset Environment Officers (Left to right): Justin Mallinson, Retrofit Coordinator for Bruton & Castle Cary. Melissa Taylor, Climate Emergency & Resilience Officer, Glastonbury TC. Cara Naden, Environment Specialist, Service Delivery, South Somerset DC. Nikki Brain, Resilience Manager, Frome TC.

On Nov 6th, the Mayor and CER Officer shared Glastonbury’s work at SCOP26+, Somerset Coalition of 26 Parishes. This inspiring event, invited representatives of Somerset organisations, and town and parish councils, to share experiences and questions, and included many useful and interesting discussions.

A heartening buzz filled the small town hall during our Climate Resilience Open Day, on Nov 9th. This was an opportunity for GTC to showcase work being carried out across five areas: Reducing, Decarbonising, Supporting Nature, Influencing, and Adapting. And an exciting range of organisations and individuals, shared projects, ideas and questions, in an inspiring array of displays, notes, connections and conversations. Everything gathered at this event, will be pulled together and published in a form that can be developed further, and shared, where appropriate.

Our final event on Nov 15th, looked back on COP26, with an online version of the evening of talks. We were joined by an additional speaker, Wells CLP Environmental Coordinator, Joe Joseph, who spoke about the role of Agroecology and food sovereignty; and Dr White shared his slightly humorous take on the COP26 process, and what made it so disappointing. A recording of this event will be made available on the GTC Youtube channel soon.

So, what has emerged from all of this? Well, we find ourselves living in the midst of a very distressing predicament. We face difficult challenges ahead, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. These COP26 events have reminded us that Glastonbury is full of inspiring people and projects, who are already building Glastonbury’s resilience. And, the best way to do this work, is together.

If you would like to share any projects, ideas or questions relating to the climate and ecological emergency, and building Glastonbury’s resilience, please contact Melissa Taylor climate@glastonbury.gov.uk