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COP26 Glasgow – What is it and why is it a big deal?


There is a lot of emphasis on COP26 and for good reason. Here is a snapshot explainer of what it is, why it matters and how it relates to our industry in furniture and homeware.

What is COP26?

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The ‘COP’ stands for the ‘Conference of Parties’, the Parties being countries and the 26 is for this conference being the 26th year that the countries have met to discuss combatting climate change. World leaders and representatives will be meeting for the conference in Glasgow from 1st-12th November 2021.

COP26 will take place in Glasgow.

Why is COP26 a big deal?

At COP26 in Paris in 2015, every country committed to working together to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees which was called the Paris Agreement. They also agreed to meet every 5 years to update on plans to achieve this. This year’s summit (which has been delayed by a year due to the pandemic) is so important as the commitments made in Paris have not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees and the window in which to do so is closing fast. This is why there is such an urgency around COP26.


How does this relate to homeware and furniture?

Like any sector, the furniture industry has an impact on the planet even if it is not the most polluting industry when compared to others such as fuel, agriculture and fashion. It is still a polluting sector in terms of waste, materials used and the quantity in which pieces are produced.

Fast fashion has significantly come under scrutiny in recent years; nonetheless, it feels sometimes as if fast furniture is not being talked about to the same length. Due to demand, retailers are relying on outsourced manufacturing that pays less for labour, manufacturing on a mass scale, and using lower-quality materials in order to make production and final prices cheaper. All of these factors contribute to a dramatic impact on the environment not to mention a higher carbon footprint due to the transportation of the materials and goods.

Furniture maker Max McCance in his workshop.

In terms of material, wood is a staple component used in the production of furniture and forests are a finite resource that falls victim to vast deforestation across the globe, particularly in tropical locations. Timber needs to be sourced from suppliers that are approved by agencies such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) who ensure the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Other materials that are used in furniture production such as synthetics like plastics are mostly made from other finite resources such as fossil fuels. Their extraction from the earth can damage ecosystems and their use in the production process such as adhesives, lacquers and paints create greenhouse gases that are very harmful to the planet especially when used on a mass-produced scale.

What needs to change?

Focusing on the principles of Slow Design and Slow Furniture is a major way in which change can be made in the industry. This involves:

  • Slowing down the process of designing, making and buying.
  • Purchasing locally so there is less transport involved.
  • Ensuring that eco-friendly and sustainable materials are used in the production of furniture and homeware.
  • Creating to order, in small batches or in limited edition runs which many AUTHOR makers do.
  • Designing and creating pieces that are durable and long-lasting, that can be passed down for generations as heirlooms in some instances.
  • Repairing and recycling schemes where a piece can be mended if needed even after 10-20 years of use or can easily be recycled or go to a new home.
  • Being more efficient with the energy used in the production process and producing less waste.

We love seeing AUTHOR makers doing their part to reduce waste and to make pieces more sustainably. For example, furniture designer/maker, Isabelle Moore, uses offcuts from her made-to-order furniture projects to make Wooden Serving Troughs and woodworker, Tom Trimmins, who sifts through offcuts at local timber yards to create his steam-bent pieces, donating the wood shavings to a local garden project in London to make compost.

Peg Stool by Aymeric Renoud.

“We are excited to see the inventive and clever ways makers in Britain are doing their part to limit the impact on the planet.”

Dundee-based designer and fabricator, Aymeric Renoud, has created a new, innovative furniture-making material called ‘Draff’ using the spent grain in alcohol production from local distilleries and breweries to make his stunning pieces such as the Peg Stool, Brasseur Table, Feuilleté Chair and more recently a drinks tray exclusive to AUTHOR. We are excited to see the inventive and clever ways makers in Britain are doing their part to limit the impact on the planet.

Another pioneer in these sustainable practices is Scottish furniture designer/maker, Angus Ross, who creates his commission-based sculptural pieces from his collectively owned  50-acre bluebell wood where trees are selectively felled each year as part of a sustainably managed woodland plan that is designed to increase bio-diversity, help regeneration and the benefit the overall health of the woodland.

Angus Ross in his workshop. Image from

“A made-to-order, handcrafted piece of furniture that is going to stand the test of time in your home is worth the wait.”

Although affordability and the choices made available is a large part of the problem, it is not just up to the makers to focus on solutions. It is also, in part, the responsibility of consumers too. Buying less with more consideration and buying better with a little more thought can make a difference. Appreciating the hours spent by master craftspeople handcrafting a one-of-a-kind piece with longevity is essential.

Yes, this does mean it is against the fast, facelessness convenience we are used to in this day and age but we promise you that a made-to-order, handcrafted piece of furniture that is going to stand the test of time in your home is worth the wait.

Wooden Serving Trough by Isabelle Moore.

You can read more about the events during the COP26 summit on their website.

Read more about AUTHOR’s stance on ethical and sustainable interior design here.

About the Author


Written by Jane Adams, founder of Author Interiors. LinkedIn:

Read more about her here.

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