Greta Thunberg: Cop26 host Scotland ‘not a world leader on climate crisis’

Teenage activist says rich countries must do more to reduce emissions

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 31 August 2021 10:17
Greta Thunberg accuses UK of 'lying' about climate credentials

Scotland is not a world leader in tackling the climate crisis, prominent activist Greta Thunberg has claimed.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, has pledged to reach a target of net-zero by 2045 which her government has said is "world-leading."

But Ms Thunberg said Scotland was among a number of rich countries that needed to do more to reduce emissions.

"No ... I mean, there are some countries that do a bit more than certain others," she told the BBC when asked if Scotland is a world leader.

"But then if we look at it from a broader perspective then I think we can safely say there are no countries – at least in the global north – that are even doing close to what would be needed."

Scotland’s climate legislation was previously described by Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations’ climate chief, as “inspiring”.

Ms Thunberg’s comments come ahead of Cop26 in Glasgow next month as the UK hosts what has been described as the most important climate summit yet.

The Swede said she had not yet decided whether she would travel to the United Nations conference, but will do if the event was "considered safe and democratic" – meaning participants from poorer countries were fully vaccinated and able to travel.

The 18-year-old was also sceptical of the Scottish government's new powersharing deal with the Scottish Greens which will bring Green representatives into government for the first time in the UK.

Ms Thunberg told the broadcaster: "Of course there might be some politicians that are slightly less worse than others. That was very mean, but you get the point.

"It's a hopeful sign that people want something that's more 'green' – whatever 'green' means – but in order to solve this, we need to tackle this at a more systemic approach."

Having returned to school after a year out leading young people in school strikes for climate change, Ms Thunberg said the conference falls in her school holidays, and if she does attend she plans to travel by train.

On whether the conference should be in person or virtual, she said: "We get much more results when we meet in person, it's hard to argue against that, but of course if it's not considered safe then we have to go for the safest option.

"To be honest, I don't think that either one will lead to much results. A physical meeting will probably bring more results, but still nowhere close to what's needed."

Asked if she was optimistic for the future, she said: "I don't know whether 'optimistic' is the right word, but it gives me at least hope to see we have a huge potential of achieving change.

"We know that change will not come from the Cop, from within these negotiations. The change will come when there are enough people outside on the streets demanding change."

Questioned on the controversy over plans for the new Cambo oil field west of Shetland, she said: "I think that maybe summarises the whole situation we are in – the fact that these kind of countries who are actually hosting the Cop are planning to actually expand fossil fuel infrastructure, to open up new oil fields, and so on.

"But also it's a bit strange that we are talking about single individual oil fields.

"It's not just that we need to stop future expansions. We also need to scale down existing ones if we are to have a chance of avoiding the worst consequences."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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