Scotland’s environment secretary believes the next 12 months until the COP26 summit in Glasgow are a “critical time” for taking action to tackle climate change.
With a year to go until the the UN’s environmental conference, Roseanna Cunningham said efforts to deal with the climate emergency “must be central” to Scotland’s coronavirus recovery.
COP26, which was delayed by a year due to the pandemic, is due to begin on November 1, 2021, with heads of state, climate experts and campaigners attending to agree co-ordinated action to tackle climate change.
Cunningham said COP26 can be a “showcase” for Scotland’s “world-leading approach” to tackling climate change after the Scottish Government committed to achieving net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045.
Marking a year to go until the summit, Cunningham said: “Amid the enormous challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global climate emergency has not gone away – far from it – and the Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to playing our part in global climate action.
“Indeed, I am very clear that it must be central to our recovery.
“The threat of climate change is, of course, a global one, requiring a global response.
“Just as the response to Covid-19 has been universal, our journey to net-zero must be the same.
“We must work together as we seek to build a greener, fairer and more equal society and economy.”
She added: “The next year will be a critical time for international climate action.
“COP26 is an opportunity to showcase Scotland’s world-leading approach to reducing emissions and ensuring a just transition where no-one is left behind.
“We cannot do this alone. And we cannot wait to act. The time for action is now.
“Tackling climate change is already at the heart of Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19.
“This must be replicated across the world to safeguard this generation and those to come.”
The Scottish Greens have challenged the Scottish Government to set out an “emergency response” in the year leading up to COP26.
Patrick Harvie, the party’s co-leader, said: “The Scottish Government claims to recognise that we are in a climate emergency, yet its response has been sadly lacking.
“We need a comprehensive emergency response to tackle the climate emergency and drive a green recovery from Covid.
“Instead, so far, we’ve had years of missed greenhouse gas targets and emissions in some sectors, like transport, are actually rising.”
He added: “In a year, Scotland will host the world when COP26 comes to Glasgow and it’s vital that we are able to demonstrate the scale of our ambition to inspire others to take bold action.
“But, in order for us to do that, the Scottish Government needs to get its act together and finally deliver the world-leading action it so often talks of.
“It needs to end its support for endless oil and gas extraction and never-ending aviation growth.”
Calling for the Scottish Government to take more of an ownership stake in BiFab, Harvie said: “Scotland has an abundance of renewables potential.
“We have the skills, the expertise and the technology to create thousands of quality, unionised, green jobs.
“But the Scottish Government’s much publicised failure to deliver any green jobs at Bifab, for a massive wind project just a few miles offshore from the Fife yards, demonstrates a lack of political will from ministers.”
Harvie also urged the Scottish Government to extend free bus travel for under 25s.
He concluded: “In the year leading up to COP26 in Glasgow, I call on the Scottish Government to be bold, to think differently and to grasp the opportunity that is before us to build a better Scotland.”