Analysis: Nicola Sturgeon taking full advantage in the run-up to COP26

Nicola Sturgeon is already taking advantage of the world’s eyes being on Scotland for COP26, even before the climate change conference has kicked off in earnest.

On Monday morning, the First Minister made the third of her four major interventions ahead of the key conference.

Each has been stage managed to perfection by her advisers, with no pesky questions from journalists, instead streaming live uninterrupted on major TV networks or on YouTube.

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First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon delivers a keynote speech in the Technology and Innovation Centre during a visit to the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, ahead of Cop26 in which she set out how the conference can lead the world into the green revolution.

This is a marked change in style for the SNP leader who spent the majority of the pandemic leaning heavily on a lectern for communication purposes and political advantage ahead of an election.

Why, the question should be asked, is Sturgeon less willing to put her climate credentials similarly to the test by allowing the print press, her least favourite audience member, a chance to question her on it?

Instead, the speeches have seen the First Minister position herself as a reasonable, ambitious leader cognisant of the threat of climate change and of the gigantic effort required to tackle it.

She is consistent in her rhetoric that a failure to act is a “betrayal” of the younger generation, and that leaders must meet the “ambition” of the Under 2 Coalition.

This coalition, made up of city, state and devolved governments, is proving a useful platform for Sturgeon to amplify her statesmanship ahead of a conference during which she will have little, if any, influence.

It is also politically expedient to challenge those with actual power and responsibility to match the ambition of those without all of the levers of government.

It produces a utopian view of how progressive an independent Scotland would be on green issues, all while eschewing her own responsibility for the relative inaction in devolved Scotland.

This is despite the launch of a new unwanted tourism slogan of ‘All Cities Have Rats’ courtesy of the Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken, which now sits alongside a looming embarrassment in the form of a rail strike.

Not allowing journalists to quiz the First Minister on her record and rhetoric should raise alarm bells as to the quality of Scotland’s own climate action and the sincerity of her words.

It is her action, not her statesmanship or rhetoric, that Sturgeon should be judged on after all.

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