Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021, Scottish Greens are demanding that the Scottish government refuse to publicize or accept sponsorship from fossil fuel companies. The UK will host the conference in partnership with Italy, the events will take place in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, UK.

The Scottish Greens believe that as the host of the conference, Scotland has an opportunity to set an example for other participating countries by kicking fossil fuel lobbyists out of the COP. The party warns that large corporations are responsible for the majority of the damage to our planet. Corporations have a great deal of resources which allow them to influence public perception about their sustainability initiatives. 

One of the main goals for this year’s conference is reaching global net zero by mid-century and keeping 1.5 degrees within reach. For the countries involved, this goal would require; phasing out coal, halting deforestation, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, and investing in renewable energy. COP26 leaders are further asking countries to commit to protecting communities and natural habitats. 

Lessons from the G7 summit

In order to achieve these goals, countries are expected to mobilize at least $100 billion in climate finance per year. During the G7 summit last month, leaders renewed this pledge to help developing nations cut emissions. This commitment is long overdue given that developing countries agreed to this pledge over a decade ago at the United Nations in 2009.

Despite promising targets, climate activists warn that these goals are not ambitious enough to curb the damaging effects of climate change.

In an interview with the BBC, Teresa Anderson from Action Aid explained: “The G7’s reaffirmation of the previous $100 billion a year target doesn’t come close to addressing the urgency and scale of the crisis.”

Climate activists have also pointed out that most of the targets discussed at the G7 summit were vague and hollow. For instance, leaders agreed to follow the UK’s footsteps in phasing out fossil fuel-powered vehicles, but did not set a date to meet this target. 

The Group of Seven nations did commit to ending new government support of coal by 2021. They further promised to provide $2.8 billion to help developing countries switch to cleaner fuel. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. Curtesy of the New York Times

The urgency of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference

The UK and Scottish Greens have been adamant to address the importance of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. UK Green Party co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, noted that: “The government still doesn’t seem to have grasped the meaning of the phrase ‘climate emergency’”. 

Scottish Greens also cited a recent Climate Change Committee Report which indicates that the UK and Scottish governments are failing to keep pace with, increased climate risks to power supply and infrastructure, crops, livestock, habitat and more.  

The fact that Scotland is hosting COP26 is significant given that the region is facing severe disruptions from climate change. A recent study from Climate Ready Clyde shows that roughly 140,000 of the poorest residents in the Clyde region will be the worst affected by droughts, flash floods, and heatwaves. In order to avoid serious damage from climate change, leaders would need to invest billions of pounds in protecting homes, businesses, and transport links.

Scottish Greens co-leader, Lorna Slater expressed the urgency of the climate disaster in a press release:

“These things are happening to Scotland now. We have all seen the floods, the landslides and the increasing fire risks from summer dry spells. There is no time to wait to protect our food supply, infrastructure and natural environment. We must invest wisely and ensure all government policy strategies are aligned. Our future depends on it.”

All eyes will be on Scotland and the UK as the 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference quickly approaches. 

Erika Mackenzie

Erika is working towards a Bachelor of Arts Degree from McGill University in Sociology with a double minor in International Development and Communications. Erika's passions include environmental protection, racial and gender equality, Indigenous rights, and affordability for all. Erika has also been published in the McGill Tribune and HuffPost Canada.

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