A FEW weeks ago we reported on hopes that Argyll and Bute Council might be able to persuade some of the delegates to this November’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow to attend an event in Helensburgh while they’re here.

Now I’m going to express what might be a slightly controversial view at this point, but here goes: there’s a large part of me that hopes the council doesn’t get that chance.

Not because I don’t think Helensburgh should get the chance to show off what it’s got to the wider world. Far from it, in fact. But I can’t get away from the view that COP26 should not – at least in its physical form – be happening at all.

While I hate to use the word “optics” – at least in any context that doesn’t involve helping hard-working journalists quench their thirst – the optics of flying hundreds, if not thousands, of delegates around the world, adding significantly to carbon emissions, for an event that is aimed at tackling climate change are, to say the least, not good.

READ MORE: Town could host 'climate change festival' ahead of COP26 event

Unless some way can be found to ensure the event is completely carbon neutral, or somehow actually cuts greenhouse gas emissions, it’s hard to see how COP26 is not going to feed climate change sceptics who will point at all the things that have been done virtually during the pandemic and will say – indeed, already are saying – “well, you can’t care all that much about climate change if you can’t see it’s a greener option to stay at home and do it all online”.

With that in mind it’s far more heartening to read of Helensburgh’s own plans to do its bit to reduce the town’s own impact on the environment.

As we report this week, early plans are afoot for a ‘Climate Change Festival’ in the town in September, building on the efforts Plastic Free Helensburgh and others have put in over the last couple of years to cut our own carbon footprint. And that is something I, and the Advertiser, can and will happily and heartily get behind.

While one town’s efforts may not eat hugely into the global fight on climate change, all over the world in the last few years we’ve seen that ordinary people are responding less and less to what our great leaders are telling them is best, and more and more to grassroots campaigns that start from the bottom and work their way up.

READ MORE: Could global leaders be on their way to Helensburgh during COP26?