COP26: Why listening to those from the world’s poorest countries cannot be understated - Ilona Amos

COP26, the United Nations summit dedicated to worldwide action to tackle climate change, is whipping up a few storms of its own.

The event is considered the most significant since the Paris Agreement was set down in 2015, when 197 countries signed up to keeping global temperature rise below 2C – and ideally not more than 1.5C.

Unsurprisingly, with fewer than 60 days to go, it’s being used as a political bargaining chip for everything from Scottish independence to securing pay rises for rail workers.

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It’s also being used as a stick to beat leaders over inaction on cutting greenhouse gases and as an incentive to attract investment in low-carbon technologies.

The United Nations climate summit COP26 is being staged by the UK at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow in November. Picture John Devlin

But let’s not forget some of the most fundamental objectives of the meeting.

As well as countries setting out their plans to reduce emissions, discussions will be held on topics such as climate justice, which considers the ethical and political impacts of a warming world.

Climate change is not only devastating, it’s also unfair and can have widely differing adverse effects on social, economic and public health in underprivileged populations and geographically vulnerable regions.

The injustice is the people living in these places have done the least to drive human-induced climate change, being collectively responsible for creating only a tiny fraction of global emissions and having enjoyed little of the mass consumption that has caused them.

With this is mind, Scotland is this week hosting a series of high-profile talks with representatives from developing nation nations which are already suffering from increasingly severe storms, floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

Beginning today, the Glasgow Climate Dialogues will hear experiences and suggested solutions from people living in the southern hemisphere, in countries such as Malawi, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Uganda and Tonga.

Campaign coalition Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Scottish Government are co-hosting the talks, which will cover some of the key topics on the agenda at COP26: participation, loss and damage, just transition and adaptation.

As Scottish net-zero secretary Michael Matheson says: “Scotland’s commitment to climate justice does not stop at our borders.

“To play our full role in supporting the aims of the Paris Agreement, we must also be an ally to the nations most urgently impacted by climate change.”

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