AS the countdown to COP26 – which launches in Glasgow on October 31 – continues, the air of anticipation and levels of activity at Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) are increasing. The centre, with its distinctive 127-metre[1]high tower, stands on the banks of the Clyde facing the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), the main host venue of the conference.

This will undoubtedly be one of the most significant global events to occur in the UK, let alone Scotland, says Dr Stephen Breslin, chief executive of GSC. And this year, he adds, is also an unprecedentedly momentous one for the educational charity and visitor attraction itself with many developments that tie in with the crucially important global aims of the conference.

In June it was announced that the centre is to undergo a £5.5 million upgrade due for completion in 2022 to become greener, cleaner, and brighter with funding by economic development agency Scottish Enterprise that will improve the roof, windows and building management system, all of which will ensure that it is more energy efficient, weatherproof and sustainable.

Meanwhile, the centre’s Our World Our Impact public engagement programme is a series of climate change activities that will engage communities in the journey to net zero, targeting many people across the country who haven’t previously engaged in climate action and helping to make Scotland’s COP26 even more inclusive.

And further, today sees the end of Curious About Our Planet, an online festival event by GSC exploring the impact of climate change on the Earth through an interactive programme of talks, tours, games and downloadable resources with live events streaming over three days.

While the centre’s engagement with COP26 is an especially important recognition of its role in highlighting climate change and the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) engagement, Dr Breslin is equally committed to the ongoing legacy of these events, highlighted by the award to GSC this month of a gold Green Tourism award in recognition of its sustainability initiatives and given by the Green Tourism organisation, which audits organisations’ environmental practices.

“During COP26 and beyond we will be working with the Scottish Government to deliver a public engagement element for schools and community groups through Our World Our Impact, which launched in October 2020,” he says.

It’s a programme he adds that GSC has developed to explore all aspects of climate change including heating solutions, food sustainability and waste reduction, developing what he describes as a “baseline of understanding” with the public and providing guidance for individuals and communities to help deal with the urgency of the problem.

Phase 2 of the programme will run until March 2022. “This will ensure the legacy of COP26 through STEM content and will provide outstanding learning experiences and resources exploring the science of climate change to schools and communities – including those in remote and rural areas,” says Dr Breslin.

He stresses that whatever the global visibility and international political importance of COP26, “We at GSC want to make sure that the people of Glasgow and the people of Scotland feel involved, that they don’t see it as just being a remote event for the great and the good but something that has resonance in terms of their daily lives.”

The importance of COP26 for the centre then, will neither start nor stop next month. Dr Breslin said: “This conference and our central involvement are part of the beginning of a concerted global effort to tackle the big issues surrounding climate change – because we have to accept that it is something that will get worse before it gets better – something we have seen this year with the extreme weather events that have increasingly focused the attention of people all over the world.”

For Dr Breslin and GSC, COP26 will be pivotal to the way it views a very serious subject – one that has an ongoing imperative.

“We can harness the interest the conference generates to further educate people and help them develop a sense of empowerment and a belief that their individual contribution is actually one that is vitally important to the wider challenge.”

Without detracting from the seriousness of the global situation, he is keen to emphasise that GSC is consistently taking a very positive view when talking about climate change. “We can all achieve something for the future – and for our young people there is the opportunity of gaining the kind of skills in green technologies that a sustainable economy will depend on.

“It’s incredibly encouraging working with young people because they have an energy and hope we can all benefit from. “They know they will have to develop new solutions and new technologies and we at GSC are helping to raise their awareness and develop a problem-solving mindset. “An innovative spirit will be required – something we are helping to nurture in the run-up to COP26, throughout the conference and far beyond.”

For more information visit