Climate change: After 'code red for humanity', world leaders at Cop26 summit need to feel public pressure – Neil Findlay

In just a few weeks’ time, Scotland will welcome tens of thousands of people, including political leaders from across the world to the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.

These talks are absolutely critical to the future well-being of our planet. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists whose findings are endorsed by the world's governments, has issued “a code red for humanity”.

Their research shows that since 1970, global surface temperatures have risen faster than in any other 50-year period over the past 2,000 years, that the past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850, that the recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971, that human influence is “very likely” the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice, and that it is "virtually certain" heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while cold events have become less frequent and less severe.

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These findings and the consequences of them could not be more stark; global leaders have to show collective leadership with an immediate and comprehensive set of proposals to tackle the crisis. The world cannot wait, there can be no delay, all around us we see an environmental catastrophe unfold and no matter how much we might not want to acknowledge it, this is affecting every one of us in the here and now.

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This year alone in Canada temperatures reached 49.5 degrees Celsius, resulting in an increase in the death rate of 195 per cent over five days. In California a state of emergency was declared in 50 of its 58 counties as water levels fell dramatically. In central China, 24 inches of rain, nearly a year's worth, fell in one day with devastating consequences.

In Germany and Belgium at least 228 people died after record rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks in what was described by a Belgian minister as “one of the greatest natural disasters our country has ever known”. In Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, bushfires raged out of control for weeks with an estimated 18 million hectares and 9,000 buildings and homes destroyed, with more than 400 premature deaths from the resulting air pollution.

In Asia and India, huge swarms of desert locusts attacked crops with warmer weather encouraging faster breeding of this destructive pest and in Antarctica, some snow-covered areas are turning green from snow algae which thrives in above-freezing temperatures.

An area completely destroyed by the floods in the Blessem district of Erftstadt, western Germany, in July (Picture: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images)

At home in Scotland, on our doorsteps and in our communities, we are far from immune as see temperatures rising with extended summer heatwaves, warmer winters with less snow and frost, prolonged and more intense rain, increased flooding, coastal erosion and rising sea levels, habitat loss and threats to iconic species like the wild salmon.

The code red for humanity is a code red for you, me and every single citizen. We cannot rely on others to fix this. We all have to show collective responsibility and leadership but we must also build pressure on the politicians gathering in Glasgow to ensure we have a global plan to save our planet. Public pressure matters.

On November 6, please come along to the global climate justice march to show your support for immediate and radical action.

Neil Findlay is a former Labour MSP and is now a director of social enterprise Unity Consulting

Wildfires rage near the Bidwell Bar Bridge near Oroville, California (Picture: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

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