GLASGOW has been confirmed as the host of the prestigious UN climate change conference next year after rival bidders Turkey pulled out.

COP26, as it is known, will see scores of heads of government as well as up to 30,000 delegates converging on Scotland’s largest city to draw up a new climate change strategy.

The event has been described as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015.

Scotland's Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am pleased that Glasgow has been confirmed as the host city of COP 26, now that the joint UK and Italy bid to host the summit has been approved.  

“It is right that this conference should come to Scotland given our leadership in climate action.

Read more: Glasgow chosen to host major UN climate change summit

"Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to acknowledge the global climate emergency and the Scottish Government has introduced the toughest targets in the UK to ensure our action matches the scale of our climate ambitions.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with partners to deliver an ambitious and effective conference that ensures Scotland plays a leading role to help promote the increased global effort to tackle climate change.

 “I have no doubt that Glasgow will deliver a highly successful conference and I look forward to welcoming delegates to Scotland.”

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “It is a tremendous honour for our city and recognition of the strides on sustainability we have made that Glasgow will host an event of such global significance.

“The Climate Emergency is the issue of our age and COP26 will be the most significant coming together of world leaders to discuss it since the signing of the Paris Agreement.

“This is the century of the city and cities are best placed to get to grips with the global climate emergency. Here in Glasgow we are determined to become the UK’s first ‘zero carbon city’.

“Our ambition is to be at the forefront on climate action and we hope the efforts in our city can encourage the attending world leaders to deliver for our planet.”

It has been proposed that the UK would host the main conference, with a preliminary meeting held in Italy.

The main climate change event will take place at Glasgow's Scottish Events Campus or SEC at the end of 2020.

“It will be a multi-million pound windfall for Glasgow, which will be hosting the prestigious global event,” a senior Whitehall source told The Herald.

Former energy minister Claire Perry, who is the UK-nominated president for COP26, has said: "As one of the UK's most sustainable cities, with a record for hosting high-profile international events, Glasgow is the right choice to showcase the UK's commitment to the environment.

"In 2020, world leaders will come together to discuss how to protect our planet and set the direction for the years to come."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described it as a huge vote of confidence.

He said: “The UK has just received a huge vote of confidence from our international partners. We’re poised to host the next major global climate negotiations, in partnership with Italy. Over 30,000 delegates from around the world will come together to commit to ambitious action to tackle climate change

“We’re ready to bring the world together to make sure we leave our precious environment in a better state for our children.”

Read more: Glasgow endorses hydrogen power as it turns its fleet green

Scottish Greens Co-Leader Patrick Harvie MSP welcomed the news.

He said:“I welcome the announcement that Glasgow is to host this major global climate conference. The science is clear, we have just a decade left to take the bold and urgent action required to transform our economy so that it works for people and planet.

“I am hopeful that hosting this event will focus minds, and embolden both the Scottish and UK Governments to recognise the scale of the challenge we face and set to work focusing all the levers of government toward tackling the climate emergency.

“Here at home we know that a Scottish Green New Deal will create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs as we transition from a reliance on oil and gas to the renewable technologies of the future. This can be replicated globally.

“The fight against the climate crisis is being led by young activists across the planet who have recognised the damage we are doing to our planet. I am delighted that the fight back against this emergency will begin in Glasgow.”

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack said: “Glasgow is a world class city and a top class choice as host of the COP26 climate change conference. I am very proud that the UK Government championed Glasgow and is bringing this event to Scotland.

“This prestigious conference will provide a significant boost to the local economy and attract people from across the globe.

“The UK Government is showing great leadership on this vital issue - becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

“I look forward to the Glasgow conference playing a key role in building a better world for future generations.”

Read more: Glasgow's youth striker Erin Curtis leads climate campaign

Lang Banks, director at WWF Scotland added: "The fossil fuel era began in Scotland and in 2020 the nations of the world must come to Glasgow and say that this generation will be the last fossil fuel generation and that they are serious about increased action to address the joint climate and nature emergencies we face.

“Scotland was the first nation in the world to declare a climate emergency and last week the First Minister put this at the heart of her Government’s work for the next 12 months.

“Between now and 2020, when the eyes of the world will be on us, it’s vital these commitments are put into action so we can demonstrate how embracing bolder action on climate in Scotland reaps benefits for people and our economy.”

Read more: "We will not stop till we see this issue fixed" The climate strikers facing down Edinburgh Council

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “This is fantastic news for Scotland and for Glasgow, which is already aiming to become the UK's first net-zero city.

“Scotland has led the world by taking real action on climate change and is well on the way to achieving some of the world’s most ambitious climate change and renewable energy targets. The climate emergency means that we must constantly update our ambitions to keep pace with the latest science, so hosting this event is a real coup for our largest city.

“Scotland’s renewable energy industry is looking forward to working with the world’s leading climate change experts to make sure that the COP agenda is followed by concrete action.”

Read more: Glasgow mine workings scheme could lead to heating for millions of homes

And Anne McCall, the Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “This is a hugely exciting announcement for Scotland and an unmissable chance for the Scottish and UK Governments to help lead the world in tackling the nature and climate emergency.

“While climate change is one of the biggest threats to nature, it is also increasingly clear that nature-based solutions such as restoring our peatlands, planting native woodlands in the right places and enhancing our coastal and wetland habitats will have a vital role to play in solving the climate crisis. Scotland is already delivering some world-leading projects that are bringing major benefits to our climate and nature, but like all countries, there is much, much more to do to deliver the transformational change needed.

“COP 26 will be a major opportunity for all countries to make commitments to invest in nature and climate solutions that will halt our runaway climate breakdown and restore the biodiversity on which human life depends. We must show leadership and act now.”

In depth: Climate for Change - The Herald's environmental campaign

Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, the international non-profit organisation added: “Today’s announcement that the UK will host the COP26 summit in Glasgow is something to be welcomed and celebrated. It is an opportunity for the UK to stand as a climate leader on the world stage, but also for British nations and businesses to take their climate action to the next level.

“2020 will see us enter into a critical decade for climate action. We know through our initiatives with businesses and governments from around the world that good progress is being made, but more needs to be done at a much greater pace and scale if we are to halt global heating in its tracks. Only the highest levels of ambition are now acceptable.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland Climate Campaigner Caroline Rance said: “The eyes of the world will be on Scotland when the UN Climate Conference comes to Glasgow. If the Scottish Government doesn’t increase its targets in the Climate Bill currently going through Holyrood and get serious about cutting emissions, COP26 will expose Scotland as simply one of many rich, industrialised countries failing to deliver their fair share of efforts to tackle the crisis.

“While the First Minister has declared a climate emergency, the new climate law – set to be finalised in just two weeks – still fails to increase action in the crucial next decade, and the recent programme for government continues the SNP government’s hypocritical support for the oil and gas industry.

“We look forward to welcoming campaigners, Indigenous activists and representatives from communities on the frontline of the climate crisis from around the world here to Scotland. Civil society are already gearing up to work together across the country and with groups around the world, to put pressure on our governments to act in line with the climate crisis. We already know the solutions, and we will be there to demand action.”

With over 30,000 people from around the world and up to 200 world leaders expected to attend, it will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “It’s fantastic news that the UK will be hosting the COP26 conference. This is a golden opportunity for the country to demonstrate its continued leadership from the front on global climate action.

“The conference will also show the world that the UK is a top destination for low-carbon investment, driving progress on reducing our own contribution to climate change and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.”