Glasgow is a relatively young city in terms of its age range, with a median age of 36, especially with a population of 130,000 students from all over the world in its further and higher education sector. The city is best known as a titan of the industrial age, but it has always also been a city of the arts and culture, an important religious site, and home to the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world. These are the sorts of assets which Glasgow was able to draw upon in finding its way to a new future for the post-industrial age.
Despite the scars of its industrial past, Glasgow also enjoys the second highest proportion of green space of any urban area in the UK. It has the largest public transport system outside of London and relatively affordable housing for its people, in 2019 it was named as the best city for UK millennials to live in. Glasgow became the first feminist city in the UK in 2022 after the Council adopted a ‘feminist town planning’ strategy.
The city experiences significant challenges in terms of health inequalities, with male life expectancy in the most deprived neighbourhoods amongst the lowest in the UK. Almost half of the city’s population (47%) live in the 20% of most deprived areas in Scotland. The city has sought to tackle these through area-based regeneration initiatives, a clear focus on the social determinants of health and partnership working amongst the city’s agencies.
The challenges of climate change were recognized in Glasgow’s Resilience Strategy, the first of its kind in the UK, and continue to be one of the city’s most significant areas of work through its Sustainable Glasgow partnership. A legacy of vacant and derelict land is one which the city shares with many other post-industrial cities across the world, but in other areas – such as the quality of the water in the previously polluted River Clyde – great improvements have been made.
- Just Transition
Glasgow is determined to see a just transition to a net zero city and not to repeat its difficult history when it moved away from heavy industry. We will therefore be working with businesses and communities to ensure that we can see a ‘managed and orderly’ transition (in the words of the Scottish Just Transition Commission report) and will shortly publish a just transition skills action plan to support current and future workers through this.
- Inclusive Climate Finance
Whilst Glasgow is not short of climate ambition, we know that climate finance is a huge issue. If we are to make a relatively rapid decarbonisation of our economy and society over these next few years then we will need to explore means of getting the capital to do that and new ways of working with the private sector, including investors.
- Inclusive Sustainable Transport
The decarbonisation of transport presents particular challenges in terms of the mix of private and public modes of travel and corresponding ownership and regulatory issues. Transport as a sector now accounts for the largest proportion of carbon emissions for Glasgow and Scotland and the opportunities to improve public health through better air quality and active travel (walking and cycling) are also significant. The Council has installed 268 free electric vehicle charging points across the city (together with 115 charge points for its own fleet) and will install a further 164 on-street charge points in 2022. It also has committed to decarbonising its fleet completely by 2029 and is currently bringing the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered refuse vehicles into operation. See Glasgow’s Transport Strategy Policy Framework, which established that transport has a positive role in tackling poverty, improving health, and reducing inequalities.
A City Climate Plan was published in June 2021 and a Just Transition Working Group has also been established. Glasgow has embraced the same local assets which gave it a leading position in the industrial age to forge a new path towards a cleaner, greener and inclusive economy. These are to be found in its world class universities, the innovation of its business sector, a supportive local council and above all its people across the city’s diverse communities. To understand Glasgow, its people and places, and the challenges and opportunities which they and the city face, the Place Commission was created. This commission – made up of expert practitioners in architecture, design, economics, engineering, and public health – engages with a range of key stakeholders and shows how projects succeed when people are at their heart: “people make places”.
Glasgow Climate Plan Place Commission