The Cop26 summit in Glasgow this year should show the world that Scotland is leading by example in the fight against climate change, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
With delegates from across the globe set to gather in Scotland’s largest city this November for the latest UN climate change talks, the First Minister said that decisions made there would “affect the prosperity, health and wellbeing of everyone in the planet”.
She stressed that the “eyes of the world will very firmly be on Scotland” when the giant conference is held.
And she insisted that Scotland, which has already set the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2045, could “help lead the world into the net-zero age”.
The First Minister spoke out about the summit as she addressed the Scottish Renewables online conference.
Speaking about Cop26 in November, Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland, working with the UK Government will help to deliver a safe and successful conference.
“But we also want to demonstrate to the world that Scotland is leading by example. As one of the nations which helped to create the industrial age, we want this year to help lead the world into the net zero age.”
She said the renewable energy sector would be “crucial to that” as she told industry leaders her government was “absolutely committed to ensuring your long term success”
Renewable sources of power now account for more than 90% of Scotland’s gross electricity demand, Ms Sturgeon noted, compared to about a quarter of a decade ago.
And she added: “Even after a year as difficult as the one we have all had, I believe the renewables sector and indeed Scotland as a whole can now look forward with hope.”
The First Minister continued: “In the next 12 months I hope that Cop26 will see the entire world take an important step to a more sustainable future.
“I expect Scotland will continue to make big strides towards our net-zero goal. I know the renewables sector will be an indispensable partner as we work towards that.”
During her address, Ms Sturgeon insisted that Scotland could be “at the forefront” of developing new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage.
Here she added: “Scotland, because of our offshore oil and gas sector, potentially has the best resources anywhere in Europe for developing this technology.”
She also said the Scottish Government would continue to press UK ministers for changes to be made to existing arrangements, which financially disadvantage those generating electricity in more remote and rural areas.
Such a system is “no longer appropriate in an age where moving to net zero is the planets top priority, and where harnessing wind energy from rural areas and from off our coast,” Ms Sturgeon insisted.
While she said that the UK energy white paper had promised to review regulations in this area, she stressed: “We must now ensure this review leads to change.
“The Scottish Government will continue to press the UK Government on this.”
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, welcomed the First Minister’s commitment to lead by example ahead of Cop26, but also urged political leaders to remember the world’s poorest as they strive towards net-zero.
Mr Livingstone said: “Scotland’s emissions reduction targets are rightly ambitious, but they’re only part of the puzzle.
“Right now, people in the world’s poorest countries are being left to pick up the climate bill for a tab they never created, losing their lives and homes while rich, historically big polluting countries offer too little financial support to help them cope.
“While the world burns, Scotland’s own fund to help poor countries cope with climate change has remained frozen for five years. It’s vital that ahead of Cop26 Scotland demonstrates global leadership by increasing the amount of financial support it offers countries on the front line of the climate crisis while encouraging other countries to do similarly.”
Meanwhile MSP Gillian Martin, the convener of Holyrood’s Environment Committee, called for a new Net-Zero Committee to be established before the Cop26 summit.
If such a committee was set up after May’s Holyrood elections, it could help “lead and drive climate change scrutiny and action”, she argued.
Ms Martin said: “Establishing a Net-Zero Committee in advance of Cop26 could have a global impact, encouraging other legislatures to look at how climate scrutiny is organised.”