Calum Martindale

South Uist’s own Calum Martindale is representing the environmental needs of our country at COP28 this year. Calum sits within the team that oversees scheduling, planning, and governance of negotiations.  Climate change is a prevalent issue for our islands on the west coast and is a topic we should certainly sit up for and pay attention to.

‘I started my journey with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when Glasgow held COP26 in 2021. The Scottish Government (who I work for in my full-time job) provided “host country support staff” to support the United Nations Secretariate with delivery of the conference.

I was one of 100 staff who were selected, and I was invited to join one of the central teams to coordinate Party negotiations. Following Glasgow, I kept in touch with the team and asked to come back. I have since been to Egypt for COP27, Germany for SB58 and now Dubai for COP28, not as a Scottish Government employee, but as a UN consultant.’

This year at COP28, there have been more than 80,000 registered participants from parties, non-government organisation, observers, and the world’s media. Last year’s conference, which took place in Egypt, was the biggest there had been – this year’s event is significantly bigger. This jump in attendance shows the importance of how the climate and global warming is impacting everybody, everywhere in all walks of life.

As COP28 comes to the end of its second week it is time to reflect on what has been a hectic period of climate negotiations and huge pledges of money by various countries.

‘This year has been the first year of pledges of $792million for Loss and Damage funding, which will go to countries who are already suffering from the impacts of extreme weather.

Overall, in the past ten days $83.7 billion has been committed by governments, businesses, and banks to mitigate, adapt and deal with climate change. Negotiators are working on texts, submitted by governments, to make decisions on how to best tackle climate change and review progress made so far.’

Let’s hope that at this global event that decisions are made to protect small communities like our own throughout the world. 

Calum mentions that: ‘This year has not been without its challenges. Firstly, the UAE COP President has been under suspicion of using the conference to strike oil deals. There are also criticisms over why so many thousands of people are flying around the world to the conference. There’s also the dark cloud of the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. 

The work is fast paced, challenging but overall interesting and rewarding. I’m enjoying the opportunity to work in this energetic environment, sit in the center of inspiring climate change work and meet so many interesting people from around the world.’