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by Andrew Learmonth
25 October 2021
First Minister urges world leaders to take 'credible action' at COP26

First Minister urges world leaders to take 'credible action' at COP26

Nicola Sturgeon has urged world leaders to take "credible action” when they arrive in Glasgow next week for the crucial COP26 climate summit.

In what was billed as a keynote address, the First Minister said the conference was possibly the “last opportunity” to avoid catastrophe.

Speaking at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, Sturgeon said that Scotland’s objective during the summit was to be a “bridge builder”

This, she explained, would mean connecting “those whose voices are too rarely heard, with those making the decisions. And so part of our role at this COP will be to provide the spaces and forums and support the initiatives, that will allow these bridges to be built.”

She added: “This may well be the world’s best - possibly last - opportunity to avert climate catastrophe. But if that opportunity is seized, the benefits will be plentiful.”

The First Minister said: "We take seriously the responsibility of all governments - at all levels - to show ambition, and to galvanise action. If we do that, we can all contribute towards a successful summit.

"I have said that small countries can lead the way in this, and they can, but in the coming days, it is the countries which emit the most, who most need to step up. They need to make ambitious pledges to achieve net zero. And those pledges must be backed by credible actions.

"The idea of 'keeping 1.5 alive', cannot simply be a face-saving slogan. It must be real. And there must be progress in Glasgow which makes that outcome more likely."

The First Minister promised her government would publish plans this week on catching up with the emissions targets it has failed to meet for the last three years.

The Scottish Government has committed itself to achieving net zero by 2045 with yearly goals and an interim target of reducing emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 set out in law.

Sturgeon said: "Two years ago, our emissions were 51.5 per cent lower than in 1990.

"But to meet that year’s annual target, they needed to be 55 per cent lower.

"The law in Scotland stipulates that if we miss any annual targets, we must outperform in future years to make up for it.

"So this week we will publish a catch-up plan. It will highlight some of the actions already announced this year.

"And also set out a range of additional measures - for example, to decarbonise public sector buildings; promote home upgrades; and make bus travel cleaner and more accessible."

Sturgeon told the audience of students and young people: "Governments at all levels have a responsibility and Scotland is determined to play our full part.

"Our ability to do that depends on our own climate credibility - Scotland cannot urge other countries to set and meet ambitious targets if we fail to do that ourselves."

Sturgeon also said the government would publish a new energy strategy next year, addressing the just transition from fossil fuel extraction.

She said: "Tens of thousands of jobs are dependent - currently - on oil and gas production. Those jobs and the people in them matter. And of course much of our energy use is still catered for by oil and gas.

"So for countries like ours - with significant remaining reserves of oil and gas - it is tempting to tell ourselves that for both economic and energy reasons, we must keep exploring for and extracting oil and gas until the last possible moment. That, in my view, would be fundamentally wrong.”

Meanwhile, answering questions from schoolchildren inside Downing Street, Boris Johnson has said is "touch and go" whether COP26 will be a success.

 

He said: "We need as many people as possible to go to net zero so that they are not producing too much carbon dioxide by the middle of the century," he said.

"Now, I think it can be done. It's going to be very, very tough, this summit. And I'm very worried, because it might go wrong and we might not get the agreements that we need.

"It's touch and go."

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Slate wiped clean: SNP's 87th annual conference could be its most collegiate in years

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