Sustainable Scotland podcast: 'Power of finance' key role at COP26

One of the world’s leading experts on green finance says COP26 could become the defining moment for turning commitments from global leaders into tangible action over climate change.

James Close, Head of Climate Change at Nat West Group, insists Scotland’s legacy can be assured by convincing major polluters and governments to make historic strides in tackling the emergency.

He predicts that the “power of finance” will play an increasingly important role in ensuring nations really do “step up” before it is too late.

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Speaking to The Scotsman’s Sustainable Scotland podcast, he warned: “I don’t this there’s any choice.”

The SECC campus will host delegates from around the worldThe SECC campus will host delegates from around the world
The SECC campus will host delegates from around the world

He added: “We all have to step up. This is the decisive decade and the window for dealing with climate change is closing very, very rapidly.

“I don’t like to be an alarmist about a lot of these things, but we are seeing the weather patterns change quite considerably.

“It was 34 degrees up in the Arctic a couple of weeks ago when it was unseasonably cold here in the UK, and that’s because the Gulf Stream is weakening, and the low pressure sits over Europe and the hot air goes up and over into the Arctic.

“There’s no way we can ignore these effects and we have to be really focused on what we can do and what we can achieve, and we have to drive the agenda as quickly and efficiently as we can.”

He believes the end results during negotiations in Glasgow could transpire to be even more ambitious than those of even Paris.

And Close, who previously held a similar position for World Bank during negotiations for the Paris Accord, says there is now real opportunity in the transition from oil and gas to low carbon solutions.

He said: “Very much top of our mind is how do we finance this transition and how do we support the transition, particularly in the North Sea, it is a very real challenge for the Scottish economy.

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“But it is amazing to see how energy services businesses that were servicing offshore oil and gas platforms can quickly develop the capabilities and propositions that support offshore wind installation or servicing.

“The power of entrepreneurship and the ability of successful businesses to reinvent themselves as they see the market opportunities, is what I think gives me confidence that we’ll be able to manage that.”

“We need to send those long-term signals so that people can prepare for it, and I think that’s going to be particularly important in energy efficiency and retrofitting homes and housing.

“You want a supply chain that knows there is going to be a high level of demand there for many years.

“They can then invest not just in the infrastructure and kit and equipment that they need, but also in the capabilities, the learning and know how that’s going to be really important to support people making that transition and driving towards that lower carbon future.”

He also believes early adopters have a huge role to play in shifting mindsets, along with incentives and requirements.

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