Climate change: Strike action to disrupt UN Cop26 summit in Glasgow would be utterly unacceptable – Scotsman comment

Climate change is the most serious threat to the survival of humanity.

The GMB's Gary Smith needs to realise just how important the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow really is (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)
The GMB's Gary Smith needs to realise just how important the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow really is (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

And yet it is an issue that some continue to treat as if it is a minor issue or will somehow go away or is someone else’s problem.

Step forward Gary Smith newly elected general secretary of the GMB, who has said he would support strike action during the United Nations’ Cop26 climate change summit, attacking the “hypocrisy” of the event being held in Glasgow, saying: “We’ve got filthy streets and kids going to school hungry, and here we are welcoming the world to talk about this big new future. I am deeply uncomfortable with that.”

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Now, he may have arguments to make about public spending cuts and “crumbling” infrastructure. However, such issues pale into insignificance when compared with the pressing need to prevent the utter catastrophe of runaway climate change. The Paris Agreement was hailed as a landmark moment, but the problem is the world is failing to live up to the promises made at that summit.

Cop26 is an opportunity to put that right, to set the world on a course that avoids dangerous climate change, that we simply cannot miss. Only a fool fails to see that and only a reckless fool would do anything to try to disrupt it.

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Astonishingly, Smith’s remarks are almost eclipsed in their idiocy by the soon-to-be-axed Scottish Qualification Authority, which wants school children taking the National 5 Geography course to learn about the “benefits” of climate change.

Exam candidates are asked to give “detailed explanations of the potential effects, both positive and negative” and, inexplicably, “equal consideration should be given to the environmental and economic benefits” such as “increased tourism in more northerly latitudes” and “improved crop yields”.

If we do nothing, within the next few decades billions of people could be forced to leave the hottest parts of the world by prolonged periods of 60-degree Celsius heat, a point at which the human body can no longer survive outside for more than about six hours. So any benefits from “increased tourism” would be inconsequential.

Thankfully, there are many who realise we must act. As Queen Elizabeth said while meeting climate change experts in Edinburgh, “it does mean we are going to have to change the way we do things really, in the end”.

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