18 avril 2022 GreenTalk

COP26 and Sustainability in Scotland

Today’s episode of Green Talking is a little different, as we are going to discuss COP26, the international climate event due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. We talk about some of the amazing energy initiatives happening in Scotland, and also take the opportunity to share some cultural insight into one of the most beautiful and friendliest countries in the world (okay, maybe we are biased…!).

We are delighted to have had information provided by the Scottish Government Hub in Paris for this episode! 

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All the useful bits to help you get the most out of Green Talking available on this page:

Useful links



Scottish Government Hub in Paris

COP26 website

Scottish Government Climate Change policy

Do you have other relevant resources to share with our listeners? Tell us in the comments!




Jennifer: Hi I’m Jennifer

Cassie: And I’m Cassie

Jennifer: And you are listening to Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for good. As always, the podcast text, along with links and the key vocabulary, are available online at greentalk.fr

Cassie: Today’s episode is a little different, we want to discuss the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. COP actually means ‘Conference of the Parties’ and so this topic links in many ways to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnership for the Goals.

COP 26 was originally due to be held right now, in November 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland, and it has been rescheduled to 2021. This conference is to be the first « global stocktake, » or review, that was outlined in the 2015Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was a commitment which brought together all nations to deliver ambitious efforts to combat climate change internationally.

Jennifer: Here at Green Talk we are passionate about taking action to help the planet and therefore we’re particularly interested in COP26 as it is an opportunity to bring together people from all over the world to discuss climate change. COP26 is not only important on the global stage but it’s also important to me personally as it’s taking place in Scotland, where I’m from!

Cassie: Yes and Scotland has a special place in my heart as well as it’s where I went to university.

Jennifer: Yup Cassie and I are friends from university and although neither of us live in Scotland anymore it will still always be home. That’s why I’m really excited that COP26 is happening in my home country and it’s a great opportunity for people all over the world to learn more about the green initiatives that are happening in Scotland.

Cassie: There really are loads of exciting projects happening, many of them funded by Scottish Government. We’re really delighted that the Scottish Government Hub in Paris has provided us with information on the initiatives that we will be talking about today.

Jennifer: As the largest event of this nature ever to be held in the UK, Scotland welcomes the opportunity to show our exceptional landscapes, venues, hospitality, culture and overall to ensure that COP 26 visitors experience the best of a Scottish welcome. This will help to deliver a legacy of climate change awareness in Scotland and beyond.

The nation is keen to play its part in hosting the climate change negotiations and provides the perfect location, as the event will be hosted in Glasgow, a city with ambitious climate change plans and loads of amazing projects already happening!


Cassie: So to better understand the COP26 context, should we have some stats? 

Jennifer: Yes we should! It’s time for fun facts with Cassie 


Cassie: So fact number one: Scotland has 25% of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal resource


Jennifer: So having spent 27 years of my life cycling along windy Scottish roads, I am not surprised. There is a lot of wind but I love that we can see a potentially negative weather issue as actually a positive resource!

Cassie: Definitely. Ok so on to fact number two: The Scottish Government is fully committed to its green energy targets to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045.

Jennifer: So net zero by 2045 that means within one generation Scotland will no longer be contributing to the causes of climate change. That’s pretty cool.

Cassie: Yeah it’s a really amazing commitment by the government. So fact number three: The current mix of renewable electricity  capacity in Scotland is now nearly 12 gigawatts, the sector is over three times bigger than it was at the end of 2009.


Jennifer: Wow! So three times bigger than it was in 2009. That’s amazing! Let’s hope we can keep it up.

Cassie: Definitely. Ok fact number four: Orkney islands produces 120% of their electricity from the wind, sun, waves and the tide and have become self-sufficient year-round in electricity.

Jennifer: Wow so the Orkney islands are self-sufficient all year in electricity, that’s a great achievement.


Cassie: Yeah for sure. So last fact from me, fact number five: 97% of community energy projects which make it to the planning stage are given approval. This is higher than the rate for private projects.

Jennifer: Ok, so what that means is that when local citizens are involved in a project, it has more chances of success than a project which is delivered by a private company.  So it’s really important to involve local people in developing these projects.


So we’ve seen there are so many energy related things happening in Scotland. In addition to all the awesome environmental facts would you like to hear some cultural facts about Scotland?

Cassie: Yes, absolutely! Got to love a good bagpipe.


Jennifer: So fact number one: traditional country dancing is taught at primary school and all Scottish people know how to perform. At most formal events you will see men in kilts, of course, and everybody takes part in these dances. You’ve actually tried this dancing, haven’t you?

Cassie: Yes I have actually! There were a few at university and every time I go to a wedding in Scotland they have a traditional dance as part of the party.


Jennifer: Yeah it’s essential at any gathering. Ok next fact: Scotland is known for some amazing inventions such as the bicycle, the TV and the telephone

Cassie: So no TV, calling home or using a bike as an alternative mode of transportation without Scotland. I hadn’t realised how much came from Scotland actually.

Jennifer: And that’s just the beginning of the list. Next fact: Scotland boasts 790 islands, only 130 of which are inhabited.

Cassie: Wow 790 islands! I think that’s more than there are actually in the Bahamas, a place that is known for the islands.

Jennifer: And just as beautiful. So Scottish culture has always been innovative, inventive and inclusive, we can see the very isolated nature of many of the island communities. There is therefore a real challenge and a real opportunity in finding solutions to the current environmental and social challenges that we are facing today. The Scottish Government has set extremely ambitious targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy and COP26 offers a real potential to transition to a net-zero world in a way that is fair and just. We must leave no one behind, incorporating the true Scottish values of innovation, inclusion and of course respect for our beautiful natural environment. The Scottish Government hopes that COP26 will be an inclusive event where all voices can be heard in a respectful and collaborative way. 

Cassie: So you said there, ‘COP 26 can support global efforts to transition to a net-zero world in a way that is fair and just. We must leave no one behind’. That really resonates with me but what does that  actually mean in practice? I think it would maybe be good to look at some examples to find out a bit more!


Jennifer: Yeah for sure.

Cassie: So first up, as you said, Scotland is known for its beautiful wild landscapes and that’s definitely something I remember from my time at university. And lots of people in Scotland live in remote, rural areas. A lot of these island communities actually do not have access to the national electricity grid, we call these ‘off-grid’ communities.

Over the past few years, seven island communities have been working together to share challenges and solutions for their unique energy situation.

Jennifer: Yep, so the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna, Foula and Fair Isle have all been sharing knowledge, expertise and resources to develop a programme with specific recommendations. The seventh community is not actually an island, but the village of Knoydart this very remote peninsula is only accessible by boat, or by a 16-mile walk through rough countryside, and the local roads are not actually connected to the UK road system. So remote is definitely the word. These communities have been collaborating closely with a number of universities and public authorities. This is helping them to find technical, practical solutions on their journeys to carbon zero!

And what we particularly love about this project is that it is totally community led, very much driven by the local people.

Cassie: Yeah exactly completely driven by those local people. This isn’t a private company doing something ‘to’ these communities, it’s very much led by the communities in partnership with companies and the public sector – an inclusive, fair and just way to transition to net-zero.

Jennifer: Totally! And like many of the best ideas, some projects are just started by a few friends in the local pub – which are often the heart of these remote communities.

Cassie: Yes, the pub is more than just somewhere for a drink, it is a key place for socialising in many communities, and of course whisky is one of Scotland’s biggest industries. There are actually some really interesting projects happening in this sector too!

The whisky industry is fully committed to achieving net zero, and actually the sector’s non-fossil fuel target was achieved four years early reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22%.

And there are loads of amazing ways this is happening!

Jennifer: Yeah so some distilleries are installing biomass power plants which generate energy from whiskey byproducts. One particular project combines heat and power plants in Speyside, where they will produce energy to power 9,000 homes, from material that would otherwise have gone to waste!

And Brewdog, the beer company are doing something similar, All of the waste grain products is now turned into green gas. They work with a local partner in East of Scotland near Aberdeen who turns the used barley into green gas, renewable vehicle fuel and organic fertilizers.


And that’s not all, in the alcohol sector, in making gin there are new technologies that are helping to make the sector more environmentally friendly. In Orkney, a gin distillery is studying an option to use hydrogenem as fuel to decarbonise the distilling process in gin making. Working with the local marine energy centre, 100% renewable energy will be used to create hydrogen fuel and develop a fully carbon zero system. Imagine that, carbon zero gin.

Cassie: That’s amazing. And that is in the Orkney islands, where we heard that 120% of the electricity demand is created from renewable resources, right?

Jennifer: Yep, same place here are amazing things happening there!

Cassie: And it’s so nice to think about the impact that these projects will have on consumers. We have mentioned many times in our podcasts the importance of being informed in our purchases, and it is great to think that soon we will be able to choose from many carbon zero options when we are doing our shopping or in the local pub!

And so for our final project, let’s think about urban communities in very densely populated areas.

Jennifer: Because we have talked a lot about remote isolated areas but we must leave no-one behind.

Cassie: Exactly! So there are loads of great projects in urban areas, but let’s look at one that is very low-tech. In Glasgow, home of COP26, there is a community organisation which works in partnership with residents and the wider community to help improve the area, particularly through gardening. The project increases energy awareness and helps people learn more about growing food and reducing the amount of waste that we produce. A recent project has converted an old tennis court into a community garden, to allow people to connect with gardening and produce local food!

Jennifer: Cool so the garden is now available to local people?

Cassie: Yep exactly, it’s a real hub which has educational and social benefit, particularly in an area where very few people have access to a garden.

Jennifer: That’s so cool. Aw we could continue talking about all the amazing projects in Scotland for hours, but we are out of time!

So, what have you learned from today’s episode Cassie?

Cassie: So I think these examples show that the best sustainability projects are not just about the environment but about the social impact and the opportunities to be really inclusive. Whether you live in a remote island or in the city centre, there are so many amazing solutions out there.

Jennifer: For sure. Yeah the transition to net zero really needs everyone to work together, to play their part, to be creative and to support others. Do you know what, it’s just like a good traditional Scottish dance – it only works if we all do our bit! [BAGPIPES]

Cassie: Yeah that is so true. Thanks for joining this episode of Green Talking, the podcast helping you learn English for Good. We’ll link to all of the topics discussed today in the podcast notes but we’re really keen to hear from you! How have you made a change after today’s podcast? What have you learned? What would you like us to talk about next? You can join the conversation social media. You can find us on all platforms at @greentalkfr. And we look forward to you joining us next time!

Jennifer: Thanks for listening! And my catchphrase of the week today is:

“From Glasgow to Aberdeen

Let’s get talking green”

Cassie: Ok actually I kind of like that.

Jennifer: Yes! Success! See you next time.

Cassie: Bye!

Jennifer: Bye!


stocktake => a review

outlined => defined
internationally => adv. throughout the world
exceptional => better than common or usual or expected
hospitality => kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
legacy => what is left by something or someone
offshore => away from land
tidal => relating to or caused by the sea
renewable => adj. capable of being renewed; replaceable; that can be renewed or extended
gigawatts – unit of measuring energy – kilowatt, megawatt, gigawatt.
self-sufficient => able to provide for your own needs without help from others
year=>round => operating or continuing throughout the year
achievement => the action of accomplishing something
bagpipe => a wind instrument; the traditional instrument of Scotland
inhabited => lived in
inventive => creativity in thought or action
inclusive => including everyone or everything; and especially including stated limits
net-zero => refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
grid => national energy network

peninsula => a large mass of land which extends into a body of water
accessible => easy to reach

rough => not perfected; lacking refinement or finesse; irregular
countryside => rural regions
socialising => the act of meeting for social purposes
biomass => plant materials and animal waste used as fuel
grain => a small, hard seed, especially the seed of a food plant such as wheat, corn, rye, oats, rice, or millet.
barley => a widely distributed cereal plant, used as food and in making beer, ale, and whiskey.

decarbonise => remove carbon from (.
densely => in a concentrated manner

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