COP26 looks set to shine a spotlight on both the Tories' and the Scottish Government's environment records.
Ministers have announced that Glasgow will host the UN international climate conference – Conference of the Parties (COP26) – in late 2020, assuming that the UK is confirmed as host country.
Campaigners have welcomed the news – and say it will shine a spotlight on climate policy in Scotland and Westminster.
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland Chief Executive, said:
“These will be the most important international climate talks since the Paris agreement. Hosting them can be a defining moment for the UK, where we come together to set a world-changing, world-leading agenda to fix the crisis.
“But the climate emergency won’t be resolved with warm words and back-slapping. Real leadership comes through action, and the UK government must start today by deleting climate-wrecking plans for more roads, runways and fracking and putting carbon-cutting at the heart of all government policy, including overseas spending.
“If we can show how to build a nation that works for people and the planet, with warm homes, clean air and a thriving renewable industry, then we will be able to set a bold agenda globally to deal with the crisis.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon said the move would bring increased scrutiny on the actions of the Scottish Government in tackling the Climate Emergency:
“If the Scottish Government doesn’t increase its targets in the Climate Bill currently before Parliament, COP26 will expose Scotland as simply one of many rich, industrialised countries failing to deliver their fair share of efforts to tackle the crisis.
“While the First Minister has declared a climate emergency the real test in the runup to this conference will be about action, not words. The Scottish Government must urgently improve the Climate Bill to further cut emissions over the next decade and commit truly transformative action including ending new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, and delivering a just transition to a zero carbon economy.”
Christian Aid’s Head of Policy, Dr Alison Doig, who was born in Glasgow said:
“Hosting the UN climate summit is a huge responsibility, as we are already seeing the very real impacts of the climate crisis. This will be the biggest summit of its kind since the Paris agreement was signed in France in 2015, marking the point that the accord comes into force.
“With record temperatures in the UK and across Europe recently, devastating floods in Mozambique and India, and weather extremes causing havoc in other parts of the world, it will be up to the UK’s diplomatic skills and influence to ensure the Glasgow summit delivers a positive and urgent outcome for the planet.
“The two priorities need to be that countries commit to work together to achieve rapid emissions reductions; and that vulnerable countries and people already suffering from the damaging effects of climate change are provided the financial support to help them adapt and prosper.”
Scotland is home of the UK’s biggest resources of onshore wind energy and its potential for wave and tidal power.
“The word Glasgow means ‘dear green place’ and we need this to be at the heart of the negotiations so we can all truly call the world our dear green place,” Doig added.
Announcing the move, former energy minister Claire Perry, the UK’s-nominated president for COP26, said:
“As one of the UK’s most sustainable cities, with a record for hosting high-profile international events, Glasgow is the right choice to showcase the UK’s commitment to the environment.”
However, Boris Johnson’s cabinet is packed full of MPs with less-than-glowing records when it comes to climate change…
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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