The comments come as COP27 begins in earnest today in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with the First Minister set to attend events on Monday and Tuesday. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, will also attend the conference just weeks after he said he would not travel to Egypt for the event.
The Glasgow Climate Pact saw countries agree to “phase-down” the use of coal, meet this year to pledge further cuts to emissions in an attempt to keep temperature rises within 1.5C, and significantly increase the amount paid to poorer countries cope with the effects of climate change.
The SNP leader will take part in a panel discussion on how to fund decarbonisation alongside other government leaders, including the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. Ms Sturgeon will also meet representatives of countries from the global south to discuss preferred outcomes from the conference and their experiences of the climate crisis.
At COP26 in Glasgow, the Scottish Government became the first developed country to commit money to help mitigate the impact of climate change on poorer countries, known as ‘loss and damage’. Urging world leaders that the answer to the climate crisis “lies in going faster” in terms of reducing emissions, the First Minister said more must be done by northern countries to make COP27 “the loss and damage COP”.
She said: “COP26 in Glasgow delivered real progress on tackling the climate crisis, with strengthened commitments to curb emissions, build resilience to climate change, and provide the finance needed to reach net zero. World leaders must use the next two weeks to take meaningful steps to deliver on the promises made in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
“We are gathering against a tense backdrop and the geopolitical landscape has changed significantly in the last year, not least as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. However the climate crisis has not gone away and the answer to many of the global crises we face, such as energy security and food shortages, lies in going faster.
Ms Sturgeon added: “For many countries, particularly in the global south, this must be the COP where the global north not only delivers on our promises to finance adaptation and mitigation, but recognises the need to address the loss and damage experienced by countries already impacted by climate change.
“Last year, Scotland became the first developed nation to pledge finance to address loss and damage and others have now followed suit, including Wallonia and Denmark. This shows just how important the action of smaller governments can be, and I know many countries and campaigners hope to see other countries, particularly in the north, step up and make COP in Egypt the loss and damage COP.”
However, her comments came as the Scottish Government was accused of “rank hypocrisy” after it cut its own energy efficiency budget as part of the emergency budget review last week. Around £133m will be cut from efficiency schemes, which aim to reduce emissions through improving insulation and energy efficiency in public buildings, as part of the autumn budget revision outlined by interim finance secretary, John Swinney, last week.
Documents state almost £110m is being removed from the operating budget of the government’s energy portfolio, with £23m cut from its capital budget. The cuts form part of the £1.2bn in savings outlined by Mr Swinney, required to help pay for additional cost-of-living measures and increased pay offers to public sector staff.
Scottish Labour have said the decision was “shameful”, with their net zero and energy spokesman, Craig Smyth, has urging the Scottish Government to reverse the cuts amidst the backdrop of a growing cost-of-living crisis.
He said: “A year ago, Nicola Sturgeon promised to make Scotland a world leader in the green revolution, but these empty promises are in tatters. The cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency are two of the urgent challenges our country faces, but the SNP-Green Government are gutting support schemes.
“Making these damaging cuts as Cop27 gets under way lays bare the rank hypocrisy hiding behind this government’s environmental rhetoric, as well as their failure to use the powers they have to help with the cost-of-living crisis. Only Labour have a real plan to insulate homes, drive down energy bills and build a fairer, greener Scotland.”
A spokesperson said the emergency budget review meant revisions were made to budget allocations for demand-led schemes within the heat and energy efficiency portfolio due to “lower than forecasted uptake”. They added their £1.8bn commitment for insulation and other energy efficiency measures remained.
They added: “We remain committed to our current plans, which show a 27 per cent increase across energy programmes next year. We will continue to deliver a range of measures to tackle fuel poverty and deliver exciting new green heat and energy efficiency projects, including key initiatives such as our Area Based Schemes and Warmer Homes Scotland.”
Nicola Sturgeon’s partners in government, the Scottish Greens, demanded more from the Prime Minister on the eve of COP27, calling on him to “stand up to big oil and gas” and “imposing a massive and meaningful windfall tax”.
The party’s climate spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, said: “We are beyond time to act, we aren’t seeing nearly enough effort to save our planet and recent events show Westminster is only making matters worse. Drilling is not the answer. Attempting to extend the life of this dying industry while its workers are being left behind is not the answer. Hiding behind pandemics, wars and the cost of living crisis is not the answer.
“But while the taps are still running and obscene profits are being made, we can make sure those who have helped create the crises are made to pay. By announcing a ban on new fossil fuel extraction licences for oil and gas, and following Scotland’s position over fracking and coal - he would demonstrate real leadership.
“Anything less will signal a failure for the UK and disaster for the world.”