The dear green place is an ironic setting for COP26 - Readers' Letters

Glasgow, first known affectionately in medieval times as the "dear green place”, is it seems teetering on the cusp of becoming perhaps known in the 21st century as the place where the survival of the dear blue planet was finally set in train.

The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow

The irony, if this happens, is exquisite. Glasgow can credibly lay claim to being a key part of the origin story of capitalist industrialisation along with its carbon-based energy foundation.

It was in Glasgow that Adam Smith provided the theory of capitalism driven by its animal spirits in pursuit of profit and growth. It was in Glasgow that James Watt invented the coal-based and steam-driven engine power that industrialised the world and now threatens the planet. It was in Glasgow that the slave-based fortunes of the merchants in tobacco, sugar and cotton were available to finance the rise of Glasgow to become industrialised as the second city of the British Empire.

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Thus capital, technological invention and ideas about political economy combined to produce transformation and industrial revolution. It will now take the same combination of forces and more to create a sustainability revolution and to turn around global warming.

Irony again abounds as Glasgow’s motto is "Let Glasgow flourish”. The question and challenge now is will the Glasgow gathering and decisions made at COP26 and subsequent action taken let the planet flourish, or will any green shoots from Glasgow fall short and wither and die?

Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, South Australia

Nuclear option

The more gas Scotland produces the less coal the world burns and the happier the planet becomes. If our First Minister could just keep that simple aphorism in her head, then she could resolve the climate conundrum between the approval of Cambo and reducing CO2 emissions.

Europe has burnt record amounts of coal in the last six months because gas is in short supply and expensive. Increase the ratio of gas over coal in our energy mix and emissions drop 50 per cent. The Cambo oil field will introduce key pipeline infrastructure that will support additional gas extraction.

Scotland will host COP26 but there will be no Scottish input. A bit like our wind farms, the content will all be imported. Fact is, there is no climate emergency here and nothing we do in Scotland has any measurable impact on the global climate.

Scotland should be saying to the world: be honest, there is no escaping the fossil fuel back-up required for wind any time soon and no hiding from poor wind performance over the last six months. Europe can’t handle a similar renewables lockdown in winter. With oil above $80/barrel, Scotland’s one million bpd should be funding a transition to reliable nuclear reactors.

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Realistically, reaching net zero needs a significant increase in dependable base-load power. The kind of power that oozes from Torness rather than spurts from Seagreen, NaG or Berwick Bank. More enlightened Greens like Patrick Moore (Greenpeace co-founder) and Michael Shellenberger (Green journalist and author) get the nuclear point. Scotland’s Green mob lives in the environmental dark ages, still betting their organic farm on wind and solar.

Scotland’s political class has wasted 20 years pushing renewables and neglecting nuclear. Fortunately, our indigenous gas reserves are sufficient, if developed, to support such a sensible transition. What Nicola Sturgeon needs to explain is; without our own gas reserves what keeps the lights on until nuclear catches up again?

Calum Miller, Prestonpans, East Lothian

An unfair COP

No seat! No input! That’s the outrageous scenario Scotland finds itself in as COP26 descends on Scotland’s largest city.

This outrageous scenario could have been avoided, not by giving special concessions for the host nation, but by giving Scotland’s parliament the rightful place it deserved as host nation.

Yet another glaring example of why Scotland needs independence to regain her voice on such major global issues as climate change.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk

Two-horse race

Yet another impressive example of Nicola Sturgeon's fence sitting was in evidence in her most recent public pronouncement. She piously tells us that to keep on exploring for and extracting oil until the last possible moment is "fundamentally wrong". She has previously told Boris Johnson he must "reassess" plans for the Cambo oilfield. When asked, however, what her own assessment is – surprise, surprise – she declines to answer! Not fundamentally wrong enough apparently.

Could it be that her coyness on the Cambo field has anything to do with the case for independence? Now that would be a surprise. If oil prices are low then the green case for ditching might be more popular. But if oil prices are high – as they are now – then oil could once again become the linchpin of the economic case for separation.

Or perhaps Ms Sturgeon is just waiting to see what decision Johnson arrives at. Then she can castigate him either for failing to live up to his much vaunted green credentials if he gives the go-ahead or alternatively for sticking a knife in the Scottish economy.

Riding two horses at the same time is quite a feat. That Ms Sturgeon is an expert is borne out by the fact that she fools half of the people all of the time.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Risky business

Plainly a large gathering such as COP26 does carry a risk of increasing infection rates (Letters, 26 October).

Scotland is already enforcing mask wearing on transport and in many indoor settings plus vaccine passports at clubs etc. These should reduce the risk that more onerous restrictions will be needed in the future. Not all visitors, even from England, will be familiar with these rules.

Will there be "Welcome" signage on border roads, at airports and at stations to make sure that incoming travellers know that these rules exist and are legal requirements?

Patrick Walker, Edinburgh

Pensions betrayal

Tory MPs in the Westminster parliament were re-elected as recently as 2019 on a party manifesto pledge – introduced by an earlier Tory government – to retain the “triple lock” for UK state pensions.

Had that promise been kept, existing pensioners might have looked forward to their state pension being increased by a relatively decent amount this coming April, though it would still have remained well below the level of £209.60 per week that a recent report – published by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association – estimates that a single pensioner needs to support what it defines as "the minimum standard of living".

Not only are existing pensioners affected – applying the triple lock as promised would have raised the base level also for future generations; and for those WASPI women still awaiting their much-delayed first pension payment.

In the circumstances, any "Honorable/Right Honorable Member” elected on a pledge to retain the triple lock should resign their seat and face their constituents in a by-election.

But I won't hold my breath waiting to see whether any Tory MP in Scotland might do the honorable thing.

Ian Waugh, Dumfries

Seeing Reds

Ben Wallace (Scotsman, 25 October) is cranking up Project Fear, saying an independent Scotland would be vulnerable to Russian aggression.

That’s curious since David Cameron asked Vladimir Putin to help halt Scottish independence in 2014 Which is it, Ben Wallace? Is Russia a friend or foe? I’m betting on the former since 14 of Boris’s ministers including Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma and two Tory MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee received funding from individuals and companies linked to Russia.

And we can’t ignore the vital role that the City of London plays in laundering money from Russian oligarchs. The Tax Justice Network ranks the UK first in international tax havens. Over two-thirds of the 956 companies that the Pandora Papers link to public officials were established in the British Virgin Islands. The New York Times identifies the City of London as the “nerve centre of the darker global offshore system that hides and guards the world’s stolen wealth”.

And it will only get worse. The Brexit fiasco has made the Tories even more eager to shore up this sinister web. The Tories invoke competitiveness and competition repeatedly in a new financial services document – code words for low taxes, flaccid regulation and weak enforcement.

Restoring Scotland’s independence has never been more urgent.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

My flue jag

I was very pleased to receive my vaccination appointment letter today from Dona Milne, Director of Public Health and Health Policy at NHS Lothian.

However I was surprised to learn I was getting a “flue” as opposed to a flu vaccine as I was not aware that such outlets carried a risk for which there was a vaccine available.

Needless to say when I go for my injection I shall be checking that the vaccinator is not humming “Chim Chim Cher-ee” under his breath and also does not look like Dick Van Dyke holding ready for insertion a syringe in the shape of a miniature chimney cleaning brush.

Alan Black, Edinburgh

Wombling free

Given the absolute state of Glasgow under the SNP, the two biggest contingents to COP26 will be a delegation of rats and the Wombles looking to “make good use of bad rubbish”.

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire

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