NICOLA Sturgeon has insisted that smaller nations like Scotland can “spur the bigger countries” to up their ambition in tackling the climate crisis.
The First Minister gave a Ted Talk in Edinburgh – setting out the role that smaller nations are playing in global efforts to end greenhouse gas emissions.
Ms Sturgeon warned that if any agreement reached between global leaders at COP26 in Glasgow next month does not meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, “we will be letting down future generations”, warning “that is unthinkable”.
The Paris Agreement, signed up to by almost all states, means countires will limit global warming to below 2C – with an ambition of 1.5C. But the plans by individual countries to back up that legally-binding commitment will result in a disastrous warming of more than 3C above pre-industrial levels.
The First Minister pointed to the crucial role of powerhouses such as the United States, China and Russia have in shaping the global response to the climate crisis but warned “the leadership of small nations matters too”.
She added: “If we raise our ambition and if we follow that through with action, then we can spur the bigger countries to go further and faster too.
“It’s often states and regions and small nations that can step in when the bigger countries fail to act.”
Scotland has committed to cutting 75 per cent of 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 2030 and become net zero by 2045. But ministers have been criticised after failing to meet annual emissions reduction targets for the last three years in a row.
Ms Sturgeon stressed that “countries of all shapes and sizes must step up” to the challenge of protecting the planet.
She added: “We must think big in our ambition, we must act big in what we do and we must be big when it comes to the impact we make.”
With COP26 coming to Glasgow at the end of this month, Ms Sturgeon said it is imperative that leaders leave Scotland’s biggest city able to “look the next generation in the eye”, knowing they have done enough to stave off what scientists have identified as humanity’s biggest threat.
“Glasgow, and the agreement that comes out of Glasgow, must – in detail, not in rhetoric, in detailed funding commitments and in other commitments – have the ability to meet the Paris objective,” she said.
“If it doesn’t do that, then we will be letting down future generations and in my view that is unthinkable and we should not let it happen.”
The First Minister was once again pressed over controversial plans by Siccar Point Energy and Shell to open up an oil field at Cambo, west of Shetland.
The UK Government is currently considering the plans and has suggested it will support the proposals despite playing a leadership role in the COP26 summit as host.
Ms Sturgeon stressed the supply of oil and gas cannot be turned off completely in the short term because that may lead to a spike in imports, as well as economic problems caused by mass lay-offs.
She also repeated calls for licences to extract oil and gas from the North Sea to be reassessed by the UK Government given the current threat of climate change.
“We’ve got to be careful that we don’t leave people and communities behind in that transition,” the First Minister said.
“We’ve got to be careful we don’t switch domestic production to imports of oil and gas – that would be counter-productive.
“So the way in which we make the transition matters, but we can’t have business as usual, because if we keep telling ourselves we can rely on fossil fuels forever, then we’ll never make that transition and that’s the key point we’ve got to address.”