COP26 climate summit's legacy to Scotland could have a revolutionary effect on our economy – Scotsman comment

As the clock ticked down to the official end of the COP26 climate summit and negotiators prepared for a long night of extra time, such was the dismay of some delegates that they walked out to join protesters in the streets.

A draft agreement published yesterday had watered down proposals to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, leaving many to conclude that efforts to ensure global warming does not exceed the 1.5-degree Celsius target were hanging by a thread.

Whatever comes out of the remaining talks, there are likely to be more than a few devils in the detail and the implementation over the coming years.

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That said, it would be wrong to paint COP26 as a complete failure. There have been some significant agreements, such as the commitments to end deforestation, cut methane emissions, and begin the journey towards net-zero-emission shipping under the ‘Clydebank Declaration’.

But while the summit’s most important legacy will be the one that it leaves to the world, it should also have a considerable effect on attitudes in Scotland and the UK.

There are likely to have been more than a few people surprised by the passion displayed by Boris Johnson over the last few weeks as he urged the world to take real and meaningful action.

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At the beginning of COP26, the Prime Minister said: “There are no compelling excuses for our procrastination. Not only have we acknowledged the problem, we have already seen first hand the devastation that climate change causes – heatwaves and droughts to wildfires and hurricanes... If we don't act now, the Paris Agreement [on climate change] will be looked at in the future, not as the moment that humanity opened its eyes to the problem but the moment we flinched and turned away.”

World leaders came to Glasgow to save the planet, but the COP26 talks should also have a considerable impact on Scotland (Picture: Alberto Pezzali/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

As a global threat, climate change should unite people across the political spectrum and, indeed, all over the world.

But, as we have said repeatedly and will say again, it is also an opportunity on a similarly vast scale.

The growing awareness of the problem in Scotland, boosted by COP26, should focus minds in government and industry on what needs to be done to transform our economy. And, in solving those problems, we have a real chance to take a lead in the new Industrial Revolution that is already dawning.

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