The shared use of a key venue during the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow has been blocked by the UK Government, MSPs have been told.
In a statement updating Holyrood about the UN conference, Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told MSPs the event is still expected to take place in November despite the growing spread of coronavirus.
Ms Cunningham said she would be demanding “an appropriate alternative venue” after the UK Government appeared to back out of a deal to share Glasgow Science Centre, located across the River Clyde from the Scottish Events Campus where the summit is due to take place.
She explained the two administrations had previously agreed to share the space as a “green zone”, hosting members of the public, business, universities and non-governmental organisations to “engage with delegates on what is happening in Scotland and to learn more about climate action”.
However, she added: “I have learned that in a recent communication with the Glasgow Science Centre, the UK Government indicated that the opportunity to share the space was no longer available to us, placing the science centre in a very difficult position and creating significant uncertainty.
“We have no desire for uncertainty to continue. Our position has always been that the climate emergency and Cop26 should transcend politics.
“As a consequence, and in the spirit of partnership, today I have written again to the Cop26 president to offer to transfer of control of the Science Centre during Cop26 to the UK Government.
“I have made it clear that this offer is provisional on the Scottish Government being offered an appropriate alternative venue in Glasgow to allow us to showcase Scotland.”
Although Ms Cunningham contested the use of the word “dispute” during questions after her statement, the Scottish Greens environment spokesman Mark Ruskell urged the two sides to not get involved in “territorial bun fights”.
He said: “I am pleased that the Cop26 is still set to come to Glasgow but the only new information we were offered today is that the UK and Scottish Governments are squabbling over who will use the Glasgow Science Centre.
“We don’t have time for territorial bunfights. Both Governments should be focusing their efforts on how to transform our economy quickly to provide an emergency response to the climate crisis.
“We need climate ambition not constitutional attrition this November.”
The UK Government has been contacted for comment, while a spokesman for the Glasgow Science Centre said the venue would not be commenting at this stage.
A Cop26 spokeswoman said: “We welcome the news that the Glasgow Science Centre will now be available for use at Cop26.
“We will continue to work with partners across the UK to ensure that Cop26 is a successful, inclusive event which brings the world together to address the pressing issue of climate change.”