Glasgow (Scotland)

Situated over the River Clyde in the West Lowlands, Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. The city boasts an impressive history as the biggest seaport in Scotland and, over the last decades, as a national and global champion of sustainability. Once an industrial superpower in its own right, the main exports of Glasgow are no longer produced in textile factories or shipyards, but instead in its leading universities, high-tech sector and by other local sustainability pioneers.

 The Glasgow City Council is committed to making the Scottish city a world leader in the development of a greener circular economy. Not only did Glasgow just welcome world leaders and climate activists at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), but it did so following its declaration of a climate and ecological emergency, in accordance with its holistic Climate Plan. Last fall, as Glasgow was busy making its final preparations to host COP, the city unveiled a draft of the Glasgow Green Deal which lays out an ambitious plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2030 while placing climate justice and social equity at its heart. With little time left to mitigate the most disastrous consequences of climate change, Glasgow is setting an important example by taking much needed action.

Sustainability focus: Climate Pioneer

Glasgow continues to live up to its name - derived from the Gaelic word ‘Glasghu’ meaning ‘Dear Green Place’ - by developing pioneering climate plans and actions that protect the environment and improve citizens’ quality of life. Glasgow also participates in numerous cross-cutting European projects and initiatives to ensure an integrated approach to reducing emissions and improving the city’s resilience.

As part of RUGGEDISED, a smart city project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Glasgow is implementing smart solutions, including the connection of buildings to smart systems, that will cement its status as one of the leaders of the Green Revolution.

Glasgow is also a key part of Connecting Nature, another European Union Horizon 2020 funded project. Here, Glasgow is a frontrunner city, offering ample experience by embedding a place-based approach using nature-based solutions to create a climate adaptive city through its Open Space Strategy. This in turn supports and provides the evidence base for strategic regional projects like the Clyde Climate Forest, which will see 18 million trees planted in the Glasgow City Region over the next ten years. As the co-lead for the impact assessment workstream, Glasgow has also co-developed the “Co-Impact Assessment Tool,” which launches on 16 March 2022 in partnership with the University of A Coruña.

Alongside joint ventures with other European cities and the European Union, Glasgow unveiled numerous climate actions in the build-up to COP26, including:

The need to knows

 Glasgow is home to:

  • Over 90 parks and gardens, eight of which have won the Green Flag Award
  • The second highest proportion of green space for its residents (32%) of any European city
  • The Glasgow region has over 12,000 renewable energy sites
  • The £154 million Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre, which takes 90% of waste destined for the landfill and turns it into renewable electricity
  • Glasgow is the location for the largest concentration of green jobs in Scotland
  • Among more than 500 global cities, Glasgow is the city least vulnerable to the effects of climate change and has the 4th lowest exposure to environmental risks overall
  • World’s largest fleet of hydrogen powered refuse collection vehicles


    • Glasgow was selected to host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference
    • The Scottish city was an early signatory of the Covenant of Mayors
    • Green Tourism Award 2021
    • First UK city to sign the Circular Cities Declaration
    • First UK city to receive Earthcheck accreditation and the first Convention Bureau in the world to join the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency Initiative in 2021
    • Glasgow was the first city in Scotland to introduce a Low Emission Zone to improve air quality

    What the city has to say

    “Glasgow still bears the scars of its industrial past and has major challenges in decarbonising its distinct built form, but in facing them it projects an urban story for other cities to follow. Through our work with global associations like the Covenant of Mayors and city partnerships such as Sustainable Glasgow, we are building greater resilience in the face of the known challenges around climate, as well as cementing our position as a place for green investment, jobs and tourism. Glasgow is a city where innovative solutions to the challenges of sustainability can be found and where the lives of our citizens are front and centre of our equitable transition to net-zero carbon.” -Councilor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council

    ICLEI and Glasgow

    Glasgow has been a key member of the ICLEI Europe community since 1996 and is an endorser of the Mannheim Message. It plays an active role in ICLEI's Cities with Nature collaboration and with its post-industrial peer cities in the ICLEI Urban Transitions Alliance.


    Other relevant links:

    Glasgow is an outward-looking and internationalist city. It is an active member of several other global networks which work on the sustainability agenda. Glasgow City Region published its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan in summer 2021. It is also a signatory to the Edinburgh Declaration on Biodiversity. The city’s new Economic Strategy incorporates a strong focus on addressing the climate emergency. Glasgow’s strong town-gown links across its further and higher education sectors received another vote of confidence from the national research funding body with the award of a £10 million grant to the GALLANT programme from the University of Glasgow in November 2021. It will work with the Council on a range of key environmental projects.