UK Government should engage with devolved administrations and ensure global climate summit is a ‘people’s COP’
I was very pleased to secure a Back Bench Business Debate on the Role and Response of the Devolved Administrations in the UN COP26 summit, in the House of Commons Chamber this afternoon and thank representatives of Wales, Northern Ireland and England for contributing to it.
It is so important that the UK Government learns from the devolved administrations and others across the globe, to do what it can to make COP26 a success and make sure world leaders do more than just sign up to targets, but make real efforts to achieve these targets, cut emissions and make a real difference, while we still can.
As the United Nations’ IPCC ‘code red’ report states, we must take action now to cut global emissions to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, and to give the world a fighting chance in the war against climate change.
But, as I said in my speech, “It will take courage. It will take determination. And sacrifice.”
As we can all see from the impact locally, nationally and internationally, global climate change is accelerating, and that human-caused emissions of carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases is the overwhelming cause of that change.
In Argyll & Bute we have seen the damage caused by unprecedented rainfall on the hillside which towers over the A83 at the Rest & Be Thankful, and the huge impact this has had on the lives or everyone living near and using this important artery into Argyll.
It is vital that all developed countries to make good on their promise to support others’ transition away from producing planet-warming emissions and move away from supporting traditional fossil fuels.
We must also make sure this is a ‘people’s COP’ and give a voice to those who are most impacted by many of the devastating impacts of climate change. These are the poorest, most vulnerable countries who need help from the world’s largest economies.
And while the ‘Code Red’ report is deeply worrying, it also offers a glimmer of hope that if we do take the right action by cutting emissions now, we can avoid a catastrophe.
Now is the time for the UK Government to work with the devolved administrations and learn from the progressive, ambitious actions the Scottish and Welsh governments are taking to combat climate change.
As I said in my speech, “It is clear the nations of UK are not necessarily moving at the same speed, or with the same shared priorities or with the same degree of urgency as each other in respect to addressing climate change, and in that regard – and despite being the host of an event in Scotland, the Prime Minister does not speak for all of the UK on these matters.”
Therefore, while it will be the UK Government that will be officially hosting COP26, it is hugely important, given that it is the governments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast who are designing and implementing their own policies to tackle climate change, that all the nations of these islands are given a fair voice at COP26.
Scotland was among the first nations in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency and Glasgow will provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase to the rest of the world our ambitious approach to tackling that climate emergency and achieve a net zero future.
This approach has led to Scotland recently managing to produce 97% of its electricity requirements from renewable sources and in the decade to 2018, Scotland reduced emissions by 31%; faster than any other nation of the UK and ahead of any G20 nation.
As well as learning from our ambitious policies and rapid progress that can be achieved, it is also vital that the UK Government backs planned developments in renewables capacity in Scotland, including the Scottish Cluster’s plans for carbon capture and storage at Peterhead.
It is also important the government gives serious consideration to involving the devolved administrations in the actual negotiations to deliver the most successful COP ever. This would show it was truly committed to working across the board to take the challenge of climate changes as seriously as it should and perhaps do something to enhance its recently diminished reputation for being a global leader.
You can hear more in my speech here: