The world has its eyes on Scotland. I hope the Glasgow Cop26 summit next month will be a moment for healing from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, an opening for hope, a place for much-needed global solidarity. Cop26 is where a diplomatic alignment must happen so we can deal with the overlapping emergencies the world faces.
I am proud to serve as patron to the Scotia Group, founded to support the success of Cop26 and consisting of an impressive collection of 100 of the most distinguished minds within science, diplomacy, law, and politics dedicated to addressing the climate emergency.
Since its inception, the Scotia Group has been meeting weekly and working with leading international institutions including Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews universities, the International Bar Association and the Alan Turing Institute, to host monthly Majlis sessions. The group has emphasised that the time for ambitious, yet fruitless political discussions around climate policy is long over.
The rapidly accelerating pace and impact of global climate change will, if not vigorously addressed, lead to an unprecedented, collective failure that already threatens millions of people and will affect hundreds of millions more in the near future.
The current disruptions in supply chains and energy markets are an early sign of how difficult it will be to bring about a global energy transition unless the G20 provides clear, strong, and decisive leadership in Rome ahead of Cop26. But we can still act to change the present trajectory.
Following a ‘statement of urgency’ addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations, in which we declared an “international diplomatic emergency” in the area of climate action, the Scotia Group now calls on the G20’s governments to collaborate and create pathways, together with the private sector and other willing states, that will accelerate global investments in decarbonisation and bring about the transition to a net-zero world.
The G20 needs to lead a “Climate 20” or C20 emergency policy. We need global governance without world government to ensure commitments that are vital to the planet and humanity. The immediate first step is to get out of the diplomatic chaos around the climate emergency. Rome must succeed in order for Glasgow to achieve a global alignment.
For this reason, the Scotia Group has today released a Climate20+ Policy, addressed to the G20 nations who carry a particular responsibility to move forward on climate change.
Climate20+ calls for more urgent action to transition to renewable energy sources; to make more ambitious decisions in setting targets and in phasing out coal; to substantially increase the level of international climate financing and provide easier access to developing countries; and to improve accountability and monitoring procedures.
We call upon China and the US, the world’s largest carbon emitters, to work together. Likewise, we call upon our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia to lead Opec and the G20 in energy transition diplomacy. We call on Italy, which holds the G20 presidency, and the United Kingdom as Cop26 hosts to work together and collaborate to achieve this global alignment.
We need to adopt an all-hands-on-deck mentality that recognises that the climate emergency is not an issue that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change can combat by itself.
The existing institutions addressing climate change, including those connected to the UN Secretariat, should take on the role of reviewing national action plans on how states intend to make their own contributions towards global net-zero.
It is critical that developing states receive support in framing their action plans and international funding, know-how and technology. We will need to accelerate the process of developing and investing in innovative alternative technologies for reducing or removing carbon emissions in industry, agriculture, transport and our daily lives.
The involvement of climate-allied parliaments including the Inter-Parliamentary Union will be critical, with respect to making legislative commitments to reach net-zero 2050, and securing ongoing public engagement, accountability, inter-generational equity and monitoring.
As Queen Elizabeth reminded us in her recent speech at Holyrood, “there is a key role for the Scottish Parliament, as with all parliaments, to help create a better, healthier future for us all, and to engage with the people they represent – especially our young people".
I am pleased to support the Scotia Group’s proposal to locate a Climate Transition Technology Centre in Scotland, as one of the possible outcomes of Cop26. It would take on the role of encouraging scientific progress and helping to create viable technologies and processes that can be made available at scale and an affordable price.
It would act as a clearing-house and incubator for both the technical and policy sides of the battle against climate change. Part of this task is to address the difficult balance between intellectual property rights and patents and the need to transfer relevant technology rapidly to all states.
But Glasgow must be more than a place where we commit to ambitious targets; we must start thinking about achieving them in a just and equitable way. No one must be left behind in societies struggling with the necessary change, especially the vulnerable. Everyone must be involved in this project of preserving our common environment for generations to come.
The G20 must ensure Cop26 becomes a pivotal event, one which transitions the climate discussion from one of ambitious words to effective, pragmatic action.
The health of every natural ecosystem should be seen not only as a matter of national and global security but as a vital building block of stability and peace. It is only through a diplomatic alignment within the next decade that we will be able to mobilise the critical mass of political will, private sector investment and civil society engagement necessary to prevent an irreversible catastrophe for life on Earth.
Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Patron of The Scotia Group