COP26 not doing enough for global south nations, Scotland's environment minister warns

Vulnerable communities in the developing world are suffering from the climate emergency in a way that is “not economically calculable”, including loss of life, Scotland’s environment minister has warned.

Speaking at COP26, Màiri McAllan said the Scottish Government would show “solidarity” with those countries most at risk from climate change, and stressed that developed nations with the “greatest responsibilities” for the crisis had to step up.

The Clydesdale MSP was addressing a Scottish Government event on Tuesday inside the summit’s blue zone, which brought together delegates from the global south.

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The event, co-hosted by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a broad coalition of civil society groups, was designed to showcase a communiqué calling on governments to better represent those from marginalised communities.

Ms Allan said it was crucial for those taking part in the climate talks to better engage with those people who experience the impacts of climate change first hand, particularly those “facing the worst impacts and who have done the least to cause this climate emergency”.

“There are many who are suffering in a way that is not economically calculable, including through the loss of life,” she said.

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The event – the only Scottish Government gathering taking place in the UK Government pavilion inside the COP26 blue zone – heard from Margaret Masudio Eberu, a smallholder farmer from Uganda and chair of the African nation’s Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers' Forum.

Environment minister Mairi McAllan

“Climate, food and women – this is a family of three,” she told the audience. “When one is affected, it affects the other. When you cause climate change, it affects women and food.

“In the global south in general, women provide labour in agriculture. When a woman is affected it is a curse on you.”

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, the chief executive of Oxfam GB, also addressed the gathering. Referencing James Watt’s industrial legacy in Glasgow, he stressed: “We need nothing short of a double revolution when it comes to climate change.”

He added: “If we get it wrong on the participation, we will get it wrong on the climate action. I’ve spent the last 48 hours wandering the summit corridors and I’ve been around quite a few UN meetings over the years, and I can’t help but think there is some attention being paid to marginalised voices.

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“But every time I hear the word consultation, I fear the voices that matter the most are not being heard enough.”

The communiqué states that for COP26 to be judged a success, it is “essential to elevate and support representation of people from the global south”.

It calls for a range of specific measures, including the promotion of youth delegates in country delegations; improved access to climate finance for the least developed countries and small island developing states; and a substantial increase in the proportion of climate finance reaching local communities.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced on Monday that it was setting aside a fund to help some of the world’s most vulnerable communities recover from and build resilience against climate change.

The Climate Justice Resilience Fund is designed to help vulnerable communities cope with climate-related disasters such as flooding and wildfires. The £1 million allocation will come from the government’s £6m a year Climate Justice Fund.

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