It would be good if I could use this question in future: “Complete this list – Kyoto, Copenhagen, Paris and…” Of course, the answer would be Glasgow
What an opportunity for Scotland to have Glasgow as the byword for when the international community came together and resolved to save the planet.
On Saturday, there will be 100 days to Cop26. Leaders from every country on the planet will, somewhat ironically, descend on Glasgow to update on climate change targets set by the UN’s Paris climate change conference in 2015.
The Paris Agreement's long-term temperature goal was to keep the rise in mean global temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit the increase to 1.5C, recognising that this would substantially reduce the impacts of climate change. The agreement set the target of reaching net-zero in the second half of the 21st century.
The problem with international climate change targets is that they are rarely met and Paris is no different. This was not helped by the withdrawal of the United States under President Trump, one of many actions he took that undermined the climate change agenda.
There is renewed hope, though, that Cop26 in Glasgow could provide a significant turning point. President Biden re-joined the Paris Accord in one of his first acts after being elected. His new presidential climate change envoy, John Kerry, has been saying all the right things and with new impetus.
He has called on all world leaders to step up to avoid the worst aspects of climate change. He has talked of there being “no need” for new fossil fuel investments anywhere and pressed China to make faster cuts. The latter point being the most important – the disinterest in climate change under Trump allowed other countries off the hook. Why does it matter?
We only have to turn on our TVs to see record-breaking heat in North America, Australia under water one month and on fire the next, deadly flash flooding in Europe and the Far East, and while I welcome the much-needed heatwave across the UK, there is no doubt our weather is becoming more erratic and extreme.
Climate change is happening now, and we have a few short years to turn it around.
So, with 100 days to go, I want local people to be involved. I’m in the middle of a number of local climate change engagement sessions. These expert-led topical discussions are designed to spark debate and ideas with a view to publishing an “Edinburgh South Cop26 manifesto” that I will present to the government minister in advance of Glasgow.
We have had great sessions on transport, food, agriculture, farming, and energy with more to come.
What is clear from these sessions is the multitudes of climate-related projects that happen in Edinburgh, from local food growing schemes and community heat initiatives to changing the way we travel, work, and the choices we all make.
They have shown that, if our global leaders step up, we will all do our bit.
We have no time to save the planet. Let’s make Glasgow the byword for it happening.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South