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COP26 BLOG: “I want to ensure climate change is at the heart of every business strategy”

COP 26 - a global conference that tackles the climate crisis - is coming to Glasgow in November 2021. Named the “26th session of the Conference of the Parties” – shortened to COP26 - the conference is a vital coming together of countries and actors to discuss how climate change will be tackled and to agree global and national targets.

Our COP26 blog series profiles inspirational voices from across ECCI's community of climate experts, researchers, students and practitioners, in the lead up to the conference.

Here we hear from Aman Gill-Lang, newly appointed Impact Coordinator of Strategic Development at the Centre of Business, Climate Change and Sustainability (B-CCaS) at the University of Edinburgh Business School and part-time Carbon Management MSc student at ECCI.

Hi Aman. Please introduce yourself and your work.

My name is Aman Gill-Lang and I am the newly appointed Impact Coordinator of Strategic Development at the Centre of Business, Climate Change and Sustainability (B-CCaS) at the University of Edinburgh, Business School. I started this position a month ago and it involves just as the title suggests creating an impact in the business world. I'm also doing the MSc in Carbon Management and am currently in my second year of the 3 year part time course.

"Businesses are central to the climate crisis, they are both problem and the solution."

Businesses are the biggest emitters and the biggest innovators. They have the capital, the technical know-how and the influence to drive real change. Their time horizons span much further than governmental parties placing them in the perfect position to lead. My role is to ensure businesses and in particular financial institutions transform their practices and their value chain to become more sustainable and purpose led. To make them realize their sphere of influence goes beyond the organization itself but incorporates their customers and how integrating climate change in their strategy is a necessity for their survival and crucial to implement the Paris Agreement.

Tell us about your background.

I have a BSc In Chemistry and an MSc in Forensic Science. I was a Forensic court going expert in the traces of illicit drugs in the UK for many years. I then moved to America and was a Research Coordinator at George Mason University where my research was in profiling biological traces on latent fingerprints. I then moved back to the UK and became a Chemistry teacher to 11-18 year old’s. It was here in class discussions where I realized my intrinsic desire to learn more about climate change and how I wanted a more active role in it. I then moved to Germany, (I am not one for staying put) and enrolled in the Carbon Management MSc programme. In these 2 short years I have learned an incredible amount from some of the most inspiring people in the field.

"I have taken an unconventional route to climate change."

Prior to joining B-CCaS I just completed a six month internship at the UNFCCC, working in communications for the Resource, Mobilization and Partnerships sub-division. It was a wild ride where I learnt an immense amount in such a short space of time. My group was small which meant I was involved in all the projects and had the good fortune to write content in social media posts, webpages, speaking notes, newsletters, and press releases. We engaged with private organisations to partner with the UNFCCC for pre, post and COP26 events.

In lieu of the postponement of COP in 2020, UNFCCC released a climate voices video which I was heavily involved in. It was to raise awareness about the urgency of the climate crisis, the UNFCCC brought together leaders from across the world to raise their ‘Climate Voices’ in a series of short inspirational videos to deliver one common, emphatic message: Now is our moment to take action on climate change!

Tell us about the work you're doing in connection to COP26?

B-CCaS launched COP26Cast discussion programmes featuring leading global climate, political, business, and civil society figures. A new topic is discussed every month and provides much-needed information, discussion, and stimulus for continued attention and action on climate issues generally, and on the UK and Scotland's role as hosts of these crucial climate negotiations.

What are your hopes for the conference?

There is no question the monumental pressure that is on the outcome of this COP exacerbated by the pandemic. But globally we recognize this is the decade to act and I am excited for renewed optimism and commitment by all the nation states. I hope more than anything for a clear path forward for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. But in honest I am more excited about this time before the COP where countries declare their ambitious Nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

"This is the time we need to ramp up the pressure on the big players, COP26 is where they are showcased but it is now where the hard work must be done!"

What’s your ultimate goal?

"To continually create an impact through my work in this space. That is all I have ever wanted since I started my degree, and I am thrilled that I don't have to wait to graduate to generate ripples."

Engagement with all sectors of society is crucial, to draw on industry-leading knowledge and expertise to provide solution-based approaches, to highlight transformational climate action and to improve public understanding of the issue.

What's your views on ECCI, Scotland and Edinburgh’s role at COP26?

At COP26, Scotland will take centre stage on its ambitious targets and how it plans to implement them. Edinburgh will be showcased as a global hub in regard to climate change and sustainability where it has an outstanding reputation in innovative direction and collaborative work.

"ECCI provides the perfect nexus of innovation, engagement and vision."

COP26 and ECCI

Find out more about how ECCI is involved with COP26 and keep up to date with the latest events, news and opportunities via the University's Social Responsibility and Sustainability team and ECCI events page.