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by Chris Marshall
01 November 2021
Nicola Sturgeon: COP26 should feel 'bloody uncomfortable' for world leaders

Nicola Sturgeon: COP26 should feel 'bloody uncomfortable' for world leaders

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the COP26 climate summit should feel “bloody uncomfortable” for world leaders whose actions have so far failed to meet their political rhetoric.

Speaking at an event hosted by environmental charity WWF, Sturgeon said governments should be held to account for what happens at the conference in the coming days.

There is huge pressure on world leaders to deliver a mechanism for achieving the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, namely keeping global warming below 1.5C when compared with pre-industrial levels.

Sturgeon said:  “This has to be a moment that leaders – all of us, whether we’re round that negotiating table or not – are really held to account for the reality of what we promise not the rhetoric.

“What can everyone do? Make life really uncomfortable for any government, any leader that’s not doing enough.

“At times, that will be my government and rightly so. We’ve all got to be pushed much harder, much faster. This summit should not feel comfortable for anybody in a position of leadership or responsibility – it should feel bloody uncomfortable because nobody yet is doing enough, and that’s the reality.”

On her own government’s missed emissions targets, the First Minister said she would rather miss difficult targets than “leap over” easy ones.

She said: “We can only have credibility in trying to push other countries if we are doing what we are required to do. Much is made – rightly – that we haven’t quite met our (climate change) targets for the last three years, so we have to publish catch-up plans. But actually, while I want to meet the targets, I would rather have ambitious targets that we fall marginally short of because we will achieve more that way than having targets that are not at all stretching, that we leap over every year.”

Sturgeon was speaking alongside Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government's net zero secretary, and Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global Climate and Energy Practice and former a COP President.  

She said she had met climate activist Greta Thunberg, who arrived in Glasgow at the weekend.

“I have just from meeting Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate and those voices often, including for people like me, are really uncomfortable at times because they make us confront the hard realities of our own lack of delivery. But, my goodness, they are so important to shake the sort of gatherings that will take place here out of the sense of complacency that surrounds them all too often.”

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