COP26: 'Scottish Parliament is definitely on the right path' in climate change fight

The historic naming of fossil fuels in the Glasgow pact at COP26 is “a mark of great achievement”, according to an award-winning civil society leader.

Fossil fuels were mentioned in the COP26 text for the first time in 25 years of the United Nations climate negotiations.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero Committee just days after the two-week summit ended, Malini Mehra, secretariat chief executive and non-executive board member, India, for GLOBE International, said the deal was not perfect but contained a number of important steps forward in the world’s drive to tackle climate change and its impacts.

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GLOBE International is cross-party network of parliamentarians dedicated to improving governance for sustainable development that includes legislators from every region across the world.

COP26 president Alok Sharma attempts to stop applause for his efforts as the summit ended in glasgow on Saturday amid what he called 'deep disappointment'. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ms Mehra said success in Glasgow “was not a foregone conclusion” but agreements on the Paris Agreement Rulebook, coal phase-down, nature-based climate solutions, strengthened language around science and finance are significant.

She described some of the net-zero declarations made at COP26 as “unprecedented”, coming from nations not expected to set a target date, with commitments from countries responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s GDP.

It’s “unheard of – a first”, she said.

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She told the committee that “conversations must now take place in national capitals” to move climate action forward and said the Scottish Parliament could play a part.

Plans “will remain paper tigers unless parliaments such as yourselves enact laws to bring them in the purview of national legislation”, she said.

“The devil is absolutely in the detail but the Scottish Parliament is definitely on the right path.”

She said national and international work on climate goals for the next annual conference – due to be held in Egypt next year – need to be ramped up.

“COP27 begins now,” she said, “and we need to make sure the rhetoric is turned into action.”

The committee also heard from Professor Jim Skea, chair of Scotland’s pioneering Just Transition Commission.

He said there had been lots of judgments on the success of COP26 but he felt the outcome had been positive overall.

“I do think it’s a good deal and we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.

He also highlighted how Scotland’s work on fairness in the move to a climate-friendly society had gained “international attention” through COP26 events in Glasgow.

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