Climate change: Scotland must keep pressure up on political parties (and here's one way to do just that) – Simon Anderson

With just weeks to go before Scotland heads to the polls, this will be an election campaign like no other.

The fight against climate change is a global one (Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages)
The fight against climate change is a global one (Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages)

Covid-19 has shown how interdependent our world is. As we emerge from lockdown, we need to question how to pick up the pieces of our broken economy and build a better society, here in Scotland and elsewhere.

The eyes of the world will be on Scotland as we host the international climate change summit Cop26 in Glasgow this November, giving us a platform to show genuine leadership at a critical moment for global climate action.

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Our political parties need to consider the broader impact of their policy manifestos to ensure Scotland plays a positive role as a global citizen, pushing for international sustainable development.

That’s why Scotland's International Development Alliance, representing over 200 diverse organisations and individuals, with partners in over 100 countries, has published its own manifesto and is hosting Scotland for a Fairer World: Question Time on March 26.

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The panel includes SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, Europe and international development minister, Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie, Liberal Democrats environment spokesperson Liam McArthur, Scottish Conservative shadow economy secretary Maurice Golden, and the Scottish Labour spokesperson on international development, Katy Clark.

We are urging people in Scotland, as well as communities from across the globe, to join our online event and question them on their parties’ commitments to tackling global poverty and climate change.

Greenhouse gases in the UK have been falling steadily since the early 1990s (Picture: PA Graphics)

We want the next Scottish government to put international solidarity at the heart of everything they do; build an economy that puts people and planet first; champion climate justice; enhance international development work so Scotland can help fight global poverty; and invest in education to empower future generations to build more inclusive, peaceful and secure societies.

The impact of our next Scottish government’s decisions will be felt across the world. If we are serious about building a fairer, greener world, then we must lead from the front and encourage other nations to follow. Our own economic prosperity and well-being can no longer be decoupled from the poverty and environmental threats experienced elsewhere.

The Scottish government’s recent international development review points to ways forward, including more just and effective use of funds. However, the level and focus of financial commitments to international development only goes so far. We must see the Scottish government renew and broaden its action in other ways too.

We need to see commitments to raise the budget significantly for the Climate Justice Fund and ensure action on climate isn’t limited within our borders.

Earlier this month, four Holyrood committees warned that urgent action and transformational change across all sectors is essential if Scotland’s ambitious climate targets – a 75 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2045 – are to be met.

Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF) must also be improved and better aligned to the UN’s globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals so that local action is always seen through a worldwide lens. Government, local authorities and other sectors need to pull together to achieve shared universal goals and craft responses to multiple crises in systematic ways.

Let’s see the political parties make bold commitments for the May 6 election and beyond.

Simon Anderson is chair of the board of trustees for Scotland’s International Development Alliance.

The alliance is a membership body for everyone committed to creating a fairer world, free from poverty, injustice and environmental threats

People can register for the free Question Time event here.

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