COP26 delegates from Global South meet First Minister

Global South representatives have urged the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to deepen her climate leadership in the last few days of COP26, by demanding that other rich countries support developing countries, slashing Scotland’s emissions and opposing all new fossil fuel projects.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Jocabed Solano from Panama (Photo by Chris Hoskins)The First Minister with Jacobed Salano, a climate activist from Panama

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), of which SCIAF is a part of, is a coalition of over 60 organisations campaigning together on climate change. SCCS hosted a roundtable with the First Minister in Glasgow on Wednesday. 

Participants have travelled to Glasgow from Panama, Zambia, Philippines, Malawi and Peru, and a youth climate activist from Canada, strongly welcomed the Scottish Government’s financial pledge to support communities facing the devastating impacts of irreversible climate impacts – so-called ‘Loss and Damage’. The announcement means the Scottish Government is the first rich, developed nation to explicitly commit such funding.

2A group of visitors to COP26 from Global South countries with representatives of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

The First Minister branded the £1m allocation from the Climate Justice Fund as an act of “reparation” for Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis, “not an act of “charity”.

The Scottish Government’s finance pledge has been welcomed by the Least Developed Countries Group – which represents 46 countries and 1 billion people – and the UN Secretary General singled out the Scottish Government for praise in this area. However, there is rapidly growing concern that COP26 will fail to secure meaningful progress on Loss and Damage globally.

While much rests on the leadership of the UK Presidency, Global South representatives told the First Minister that COP26 must establish a new finance facility for Loss and Damage and help drive sustained progress by making it a permanent agenda item at future UN climate conferences. 

Musamba MubangaMusamba Mubanga, Programme Specialist with Caritas Zambia (one of SCIAF's partners), urged the First Minister to continue Scotland’s leadership on Loss and Damage between now and COP27 in Egypt:

One of the legacies from Glasgow’s COP26 has to be Scotland taking a leading role in bringing together countries and key regions and cities in Europe, to have a dialogue with Global South experts and for communities to push forward on wider Loss and Damage funding. I hope that the First Minister will rise to the challenge and help present ideas at the next COP taking place in Africa in 2022.

Jacobed SalanoJocabed Solano, an indigenous rights and climate change activist from Panama said:

The sea levels are rising all around our islands and people are losing their homes. This is the land of our grandmothers and we want to stay. Indigenous people care for 80% of the world’s biodiversity in the lands in which we have lived for centuries. To protect the Earth, you must protect our human rights. What will you say to your children and grandchildren when they ask how you cared for the earth? My people say we are united with Mother Earth and we must defend her.

Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister stated:

Scotland is not a paragon of virtue, we have massive things we need to reckon with and change, and we’ve got much to do and we’ve got to keep ourselves under pressure to do that. I fully recognise the obligation Scotland has, we’re amongst the leading countries in the world in terms of reducing emissions but the bar is too low, it’s too easy to claim leadership.

Together with SCCS, SCIAF urges the First Minister to oppose the proposed Cambo oil field. The decision on the proposed development off Shetland rests at UK level, but the coalition says the First Minister should urge the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to intervene and block the proposal – setting a powerful example to all rich nations on the need to end the use of fossil fuels. 

Update:  Following meeting  with partners the First Minister announced that the Climate Justice Fund would be increased by a further 50% bringing the total to £36 million.  The First Minister said: “This increased funding will also build on our ground breaking contribution to loss and damage, by doubling our contribution to addressing loss and damage to £2 million.” On the issue of Cambo the First Minister said in the Scottish Parliament:  "I do not think that we can go on extracting new oil and gas for ever—that is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery—and I do not think that we can continue to give the go-ahead to new oilfields, so I do not think that Cambo should get the green light. I am not the one taking that decision, so I have set out a proposal for a climate assessment, and I think that the presumption would be that Cambo could not and should not pass any rigorous climate assessment."