Nicola Sturgeon has said Cop26 needs to see “significant uplift” in the ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s most polluting countries, and also said the conference must recognise growing levels of anger at inaction, particularly from younger generations.
She also suggested the controversial Cambo oilfield in the North Sea, which has been backed by the UK government, should be reviewed.
Speaking in front of an audience of students and young people in Glasgow a week before the UN’s climate summit begins, Ms Sturgeon called on world leaders to take “credible action” to achieve net zero.
She also warned that without the conference resulting in more determined action from governments, such events could serve to further inflame tensions over politicians’ handling of the climate crisis.
Speaking about recognising the “fundamental issues of fairness and justice that lie at the heard of the climate crisis”, she said young people “will live their lives with the climate that my, and preceding generations have created”.
“All leaders at Cop26 must truly understand the concern, the entirely justified anger, that so many young people across the world feel.”
“I know that in some ways, what Cop26 represents – rich countries coming together to haggle and negotiate over the future of the planet – might intensify rather than alleviate your anger.”
“On the need for climate action there is no doubt at all that your generation is far ahead of mine.
“I know that some of the most challenging interactions I’ve had on climate policy have been with young activists – I’ve been pushed to go much further and faster, and quite rightly so.”
She said one key measure of whether the conference could be considered a success was how it was regarded by young people.
She said: “For all of us in positions of leadership today, there is a really important standard that we must hold ourselves to: Can we look you and your peers across the world in the eye and say we’re doing enough? Right now the simple answer to that question is no, we’re not.
“So a fundamental test of Cop26 is that it starts to turn that no into yes.”
Speaking more widely about what was required to get to this point, Ms sturgeon focused on the countries with the biggest greenhouse gas emissions, which she said must “step up the most”, and urged them to sign up to emissions cuts by 2030.
Countries must “be clear in their ambition to reach net zero”, she said.
“To be credible their pledges must be backed by action.”
“The hard fact is this: keeping 1.5 alive – which has become the strapline almost, for Cop26 – is vital, but it mustn’t just become a face-saving slogan, it must be real.”
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