Readers Letters: COP26... climate triumph or health disaster?

While COP26 delegates prepare to jet in to Glasgow, The Scotsman headlined (22 October, pp1) that a leading health advisor is warning that the conference will trigger a spike in Covid cases. It’s alarming that the vast majority of the 25,000 delegates have chosen to travel and mix indoors rather than join remotely as Scottish Government health advisor Devi Shridhar warns that the conference is taking place at the “worst possible time” from a public health perspective.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will be in Glasgow this week... but should she stay at home? (Picture: Getty Images)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will be in Glasgow this week... but should she stay at home? (Picture: Getty Images)

The expected spike threatens to dwarf that experienced after the Euros and occurs just as many hospitals are experiencing full capacity prior to the winter peak. It would have made sense if, like football supporters, delegates were mandated to show vaccine passports and it would have been prudent to test delegates at airports and provide hotel quarantining rather than relying on them quarantining when they got home.While the UK government has made no attempt to dissuade more leaders and high profile delegates to set an example and refrain from attending, Greta Thunberg’s presence will attract hundreds more. Ms Thunberg should live up to her mantra of “I don’t want you to listen to me, listen to the science..”, and pass the baton on to scientists who make her case far more eloquently.With so many mixing indoors over such a long period and the perfect storm of Covid, flu and a backlog of serious legacy operations, it’s no wonder that Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has warned that this will be the most challenging winter in NHS history. Mr Yousaf is confident, however, that sufficient health measures are in place at COP26 and there is no need for further national restrictions.

If public health experts are right he may regret that in a few weeks, although he has refused to rule out further restrictions at Christmas. Here we go again. Let’s hope that COP26 will be remembered here more as a climate triumph than a major contributor to a health disaster this winter.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Lead by example

Following various speeches and statements by the First Minister I await her leading by example. Firstly, she should announce that come January she and her cabinet members, and Ian Blackford and his shadow cabinet members, will change their heating source to heat pumps and they will all change to electric cars. Secondly the rest of the SNP and Green MSPs and MPs will carry out the same changes from Easter. Thirdly, all SNP and Green Councillors would, from July, change their heating and car. This would mean that by the end of 2022, all elected members of both parties would be setting an example and putting their money where their policies are.

Elizabeth Hands, Armadale, West Lothian

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Hot air heating

The countdown had begun a while ago but yesterday Nicola Sturgeon got off the starting blocks and put herself front and centre of COP26, calling for “credible action, not face-saving slogans”. What she seems to forget is that her government has been in charge for the last 14 years and yet they have done very little.

The First Minister claimed: “Our credentials on the environment will be judged by what we do.” Indeed they will.

Would that be the low emission ferries which have not even left the dock yet. Three years late and counting, while the ferry stock gets older and older, still pumping out dreadful emissions into the atmosphere.

Would that be the inability of the SNP government to make all government buildings energy efficient? Only two buildings have renewable energy sources – Saughton House and a building in Galashiels.

Would that be the failure to hit five of the seven targets that the SNP set for itself in 2018? It has not managed to hit its own greenhouse gas reduction targets in the last three years.

Perhaps if the SNP talked less and actually got on with doing something constructive, that reduction of hot air swirling above Holyrood might help the climate.

Jane Lax, Aberlour, Banffshire

Our servants?

Nicola Sturgeon is obviously aware her presence at COP26 will be drowned out by the more important luminaries there, hence she has got her message in early. She says "credible action is needed, not words" and she should know as it is her government's policy to do the exact opposite.

Many SNP pronouncements end up in the bin simply because they are easy to promise but near impossible to deliver. Just think of the Named Persons Act or the national energy company... even the Hate Crimes Bill is yet to be actually enacted.

The crisis now facing us all is climate change. A good cause, for sure, but is it really deliverable in its present form? Altering the everyday behaviour of the entire population, be that by banning new petrol and diesel cars, stopping many citizens accessing city centres by car or forcing totally inefficient and expensive heat pumps upon everyone in place of gas central heating seems to be the new normal. There was a time when governments claimed to be the servants of the people. It looks very like this policy has been reversed too.

Nicola Sturgeon claims she wants to be at the forefront of this “revolution” so is there any way of her coming up with practical solutions rather than draconian ones?

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Deal or no deal

Kit Fraser (Letters, 25 October) valiantly tries to raise the spectre of the Ulsterisation of a trade border between the rUK and an independent Scotland. He doesn't mention that the problems with the operation of the trade protocol in Northern Ireland largely stem from the duplicity of a UK government which never intended to honour its obligations. He fails to note the very large number of trade deals operating smoothly between the EU and countries outwith its borders. His argument seems to imply that, for ideological reasons or cussedness, the UK would deny its companies, customers and voting public consumers a mutually beneficial trade relationship and access to high quality Scottish goods and services.It seems that for this sceptic, it's possible for the UK to negotiate trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, but not with its nearest neighbour. Aye right.Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Well informed

Peter Dryburgh (Letters, 25 October) asks how he might be notified about his booster shot. If he goes on to the website of NHS Inform he will find all the information he requires. Over-70s will either be sent a letter between now and the beginning of November inviting them to be vaccinated for both the flu shot and Covid booster, or be contacted by their GP surgery. The NHS will offer both jags at the same time.

Different arrangements will apply to different age groups as to how they will be able to have their booster shot. The priority is getting those aged over 60 and those under 60 with significant conditions vaccinated first. They will be sent letters. Those aged 50-59 will require to book a slot in a booking portal on the website from mid-November when it becomes available

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh

Chlorin ated glasses

Mary Thomas (Letters, 23 October) displays her usual partisanship in dealing with the issue of post-independent Scotla nd's trade prospects and deploys a worryingly scatter gun use of statistics in making her case.

No doubt a continuing UK would, as Ms Thomas suggests, seek a trade deal with an independent Scotland. However, the trade imbalance between the two – 60 per cent of Scottish exports going to the UK and only 10 per cent travelling in the opposite direction – would ensure such a “ bespoke” trade deal would be far more favourable to the continuing UK. Having extracted itself unwisely from the UK, without even WTO membership, and at the end of a bureaucratic queue for EU admittance, Scotland would simply have to take whatever terms she could get.

Ms Thomas then raises that old SNP chestnut of a a prosperous Ireland. Eire, we are told, has 44 direct sailings to the EU every week while Scotland (apparently scandalously) has none. Presumably that's because it makes more logistical sense for the 19 per cent of Scottish trade bound for the EU to travel South on land before embarking at Felixstowe and other southern English ports for the Continent. It is nevertheless true to say that Irish trade with the UK is down to a mere 9 per cent but what really puts bread in Irish mouths is not trade with the EU but the 32 per cent of her trade conducted with the US, Due, of course, to chlorinated-chicken-tinted glasses and a disdain for American anti-statist politics, this would not be a viable option for an independent Scotland!

Finally, it's surely naive of Ms Thomas not to see that the 75 per cent of Canada's exports which end up in the US severely restrict the former country's political and economic options. At least through representation in the UK Parliament Scots have some way of influencing their own economic future.

John Wood, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Number’s up

I was amused by Jim Reilly’s story of his friend's missing Partick Thistle shirt (Letters, 25 October). Jock Wemyss, who later became a well-known match commentator, was capped in 1914 before the First World War. Of course, no matches were played during hostilities. When Internationals were resumed in 1920 Jock was again capped. When the team shirts were handed out Jock asked where his was. He was told that as he had been given one in 1914 he didn’t get another. Players were expected to keep their shirts and reuse them if capped again. Presumably a shirt was found for him. I think that in those days players didn’t wear numbers on their backs.

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

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