COP26: Nicola Sturgeon says credible action needed on climate crisis

Published
Related Topics
Media caption,
Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland's industrial past is a source of pride, but it should also be a "real cause for reflection"

Nicola Sturgeon has called for "credible action, not face-saving slogans" to come from next week's COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The talks have been billed as the "last best chance" to limit the rise in the earth's temperature to 1.5C.

In a speech ahead of the conference, the first minister said concrete action is needed to "keep 1.5 alive".

The UK government said the first minister would play an "important role" at COP26.

It has insisted the summit must "stick with the goal" of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C.

Ms Sturgeon said the conference can lead the world into a "green revolution" and that Scotland can act as a bridge between large and small nations.

And she said her government would set out details later this week about how it would "catch up" with its own emissions reduction targets, having "fallen short" of its last three annual milestones.

She said: "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."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
As final preparations take place at the SEC, the first minister hopes Glasgow will act as a bridge across the climate divide

More than 120 world leaders will attend the summit, which takes place at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

In her speech to an audience of young people and students in Glasgow, the first minister called for a "significant uplift in ambition" from world leaders - particularly those of the "biggest emitting countries" - to act to limit global temperature increases and deliver a fair financial package for developing countries.

She 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."

Ms Sturgeon also encouraged national governments to match the ambition of cities, regions and state governments, and she said her government would "help those around the negotiating table to hear from activists in the developed world and from the global South".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Thousands of delegates and hundreds of world leaders will descend on Glasgow for the climate summit

The Scottish government has set what it describes as world leading targets to cut carbon emissions.

It has committed to achieving net zero by 2045 with an interim goal of reducing emissions by 75% by 2030.

These targets have been put into law in Scotland, with ministers describing it as the "toughest, most ambitious legislative framework on climate change in the world".

The snag is the annual progress required to hit these targets has not yet been achieved.

The latest emissions figures for 2019 suggested Scotland had reduced the amount of carbon it was releasing into the atmosphere by 51.5% compared to 1990 levels. The target for 2019 was 55%.

The Scottish government has more to do to live up to its ambitions on tackling climate change, and is promising a "catch up" plan later this week.

Last week, COP26 President Alok Sharma told the BBC's No Hot Air podcast the aim was to get countries to "stick with the goals" of holding the rise in the earth's temperature to 1.5C, as agreed at a COP summit in Paris in 2015.

He said: "World leaders came together and said that they would act to limit global temperature rises to well below 2C, aiming for 1.5C and that's what we want to try and achieve.

"I think Glasgow has to be the moment that the world acts. We've got some commitments but we need to go further."

Mr Sharma added: "We need to make sure that we can say with credibility that we've kept 1.5C in reach.

"Now is the time for all of us to act, but particularly for the biggest emitters - the G20 nations and the developed countries who promised finance to support developing countries - they also need to step up."

A spokesman for the UK government said: "The prime minister has been clear [that] the first ministers will play an important role at COP26.

"We are working with the Scottish government, Welsh government and Northern Ireland executive to ensure an inclusive and ambitious summit for the whole of the UK."

The COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow in November is seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control. Almost 200 countries are being asked for their plans to cut emissions, and it could lead to major changes to our everyday lives.

More on this story