COP26: what is it, and what does it mean for the Rovers?

This article appeared in Rovers Review – the Raith Rovers matchday programme – on Saturday 16 October. Final score on the day was Raith Rovers 2-1 Arbroath

If you’re heading through Glasgow on your way to the upcoming Queen of the South or Hamilton games, you might notice it’s busier than usual. That’s because for the first two weeks of November, Glasgow will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference – or COP26 for short. The leaders of the world are descending on Scotland to agree on a plan to tackle the threats that climate change poses to the world. But what does all this mean for the Rovers and Scottish football?

The computer-enhanced image of Stark’s Park below is a good place to start thinking about what’s up for discussion at COP26, and how it might affect the Rovers.

The first thing that might jump out at you are the solar panels on the roof of the main stand. As the Rovers demonstrated to the whole of Scottish football when the Fife Derby ground to an abrupt halt on live TV, a football stadium needs power to run. One of the major discussion points at COP26 will be the actions each country needs to take to reduce their emissions and avoid harmful global warming. A big part of these conversations will be agreeing on commitments to increase the proportion of energy sourced from renewable sources such as wind, wave and solar instead of gas, coal and oil. So in future, the energy powering Stark’s Park, not to mention the transportation we use to get to and from games, will come from cleaner sources. This might have implications for when energy is available, and how much it costs us. We might even develop innovative approaches to generating the electricity we need locally – like solar panels on the roof.

Something else you’ll notice in the image is the big puddle on the playing surface. After his start to the season you’d be forgiven Dario Zanatta can walk on water, but even our Canadian superstar would have trouble carving through defences with so much rainwater on the pitch. This leads to a second key discussion point at COP26 – how to deal with the changes to the climate that we are going to experience in the coming years. In Scotland we’re going to see more heavy rainfall, storms, and even heatwaves. The agreements that are made at COP26 will influence the measures we put in place in Scotland to predict and respond to weather extremes. In turn, this might have consequences for the time of year we play football, how we deal with postponing games, and how we look after players during training. Hopefully an increased likelihood of sodden pitches will not, however, lead to the return of long-ball tactics.

Clearly there are much more important issues at stake than Scottish football when the world’s leaders meet in Glasgow. But climate change is a massive topic, and it’s by focusing in on things that are familiar to us – like football – that we can start to make sense of what COP26 means for us.

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