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by Chris Marshall
03 September 2021
Lorna Slater: COP26 likely to be an 'exercise in backslapping and greenwashing'

Lorna Slater photographed for Holyrood by Anna Moffat

Lorna Slater: COP26 likely to be an 'exercise in backslapping and greenwashing'

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has expressed concern the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow will be an “exercise in backslapping and greenwashing”.

Slater, who this week became a Scottish Government minister following an agreement between her party and the SNP, said the most interesting developments were likely to come from fringe events rather than the summit itself.

The UN event is being hosted by the UK Government and has been described by John Kerry, the US special envoy on climate, as the world’s “last best chance” to avert catastrophic warming, a view shared by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of whose government Slater is now a part.

But in a wide-ranging interview for the latest edition of Holyrood, Slater said she wasn’t optimistic about the chances of success.

Asked if she felt positive about COP26, she said: “No. I think that Boris Johnson has invited the world’s worst polluters, the big corporations, and he’s abdicating responsibility and handing it to these big corporations to solve the problem.

“I worry that COP26 will be an exercise in backslapping and greenwashing without anything coming out of it. But I think the events around COP26 might be quite interesting.

“In the same way that in Edinburgh, the Fringe became more interesting than the Festival itself, the fringe events around COP might be where the action is and we’ll certainly be involved in some of those. We’re planning to hold events to get the voice of people heard who don’t usually get heard – people who come from island countries that are literally disappearing under the sea, for example.”

Asked if the world was doomed without an agreement at COP26, she said: “I don’t think we are, but I’m not sure COP26 is the right mechanism for it - let’s see.

“Saving the planet isn’t optional. We’re not going to condemn our descendants to a future that we could have prevented, so we won’t give up and we’ll keep working...”

Speaking in July, the first minister said: “COP26 represents the world’s best chance – and possibly one of our last chances – to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

The Scottish Government has described the summit as “a unique opportunity to show leadership on climate action on the international stage”. 

Read the full interview in the latest edition of Holyrood, published next week.

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