Scotland politics

Glasgow COP26: Sturgeon and Gove make climate summit pledge

Michael Gove and Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Getty/PA
Image caption Mr Gove and Ms Sturgeon were speaking at the same Green Alliance event in London

Scotland's first minister has insisted that the Glasgow COP26 climate summit will not cause "squabbles" between the Scottish and UK governments.

In a speech to a think tank in London, Nicola Sturgeon said her government would work "closely and constructively" with its UK counterparts.

UK cabinet minister Michael Gove told the same event that the two governments were working together "very well".

The summit will be held at the Scottish Events Campus in November.

But the build-up to the key UN event, which is expected to be attended by about 200 world leaders, has been overshadowed in recent weeks by a political row over the UK government's decision to sack Claire O'Neill, who had been co-ordinating plans for the summit.

Ms O'Neill, a former Conservative minister, subsequently claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had "heartily and saltily" refused to give Ms Sturgeon an official role in the summit.

She also accused the Scottish government of behaving "disgracefully" ahead of the conference, and said the two governments were locked in a "stand-off" over the event.

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Gove both sought to play down fears that the summit's success was being threatened by a turf war between Holyrood and Westminster when they spoke at an event organised by environmental think-tank Green Alliance on Tuesday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Claire O'Neill was sacked from her role as President of COP26

The first minister said it was "vital" for the whole planet that the COP26 summit was a success, and said she hoped her "concerns" about the sacking of Ms O'Neill would be laid to rest when a replacement is appointed to the role later this week.

Ms Sturgeon added: "There are plenty of issues Boris Johnson and I can have squabbles about. This really should not be one of them.

"I personally and my government are committed absolutely and unequivocally to working closely and constructively with the UK government and with other partners in preparing for the COP26."

She said COP26 was even more important than the talks that secured the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change in 2015, because of the urgency of the climate emergency.

"We must come out of the COP with a global agreement that is not just about the targets we're seeking to meet, but detailed plans and actions the world is committed to that, at an absolute minimum, will meet the obligations of the Paris treaty", Ms Sturgeon added.

The first minister said Scotland had "world leading targets" to cut emissions to net zero by 2045, had produced a budget that would help the country move swiftly towards that, and added that the shift must be done in a way that was fair to people.


What is COP26?

Image copyright SEC
Image caption The Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow, which is hosting COP26, includes the Armadillo and the SSE Hydro buildings
  • It's a UN-led annual meeting set up to assess progress on tackling climate change
  • COP stands for Conference of the Parties. The parties in question are countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty that came into force on 21 March 1994
  • The first COP meeting took place in Berlin, Germany, in 1995
  • COP26, in November, will see about 200 world leaders meet in Glasgow to agree a new, long-term deal on rising temperatures
  • It's seen as particularly important because the Madrid COP last year left a raft of complex issues unresolved

Meanwhile, Mr Gove - who has been tipped to replace Ms O'Neill as the president of the COP26 summit - said the UK had a moral responsibility to lead on climate change.

He insisted that the UK and Scottish governments were getting on "very well" ahead of the conference, adding: "You have a UK Conservative government working with a Scottish Nationalist Scottish government and, whatever their differences, a determination to make this a success."

Mr Gove pointed to the UK's achievements in cutting emissions so far, but said: "Even as we do celebrate what we've achieved, be in no doubt the government recognises there's so much more we need to do in order genuinely to demonstrate leadership.

"It is not enough to look at the trajectory in the past. We have to be even more ambitious in the future."

Following the government's announcement on bringing a ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles forward to 2035, he said there would be further initiatives through the year on areas such as energy generation, construction, house-building and energy-intensive industries.

He said: "One of the reasons we think it's so important is not just because we're hosting COP but also because we believe the UK has a moral responsibility to lead."

Mr Gove added that the talks needed to see greater climate action by countries, a recognition of the loss and damage suffered by poorer nations as a result of warming temperatures, the need for climate funding and the role of nature-based solutions."


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