COP26 Failure – Scotsman Article – 18 November 2021


COP26 has been and gone but what’s its legacy for Scotland, as well as for humanity. I was on the march almost a fortnight ago and it was huge, despite the weather and difficulties in accessing Glasgow. The train I was on busy with young and old, and from all parts of the globe. A train as busy as that’s usually only seen on busy sporting occasions or perhaps pre-Xmas shopping.  But they had a mood of determination, even if optimism wasn’t high.

The latter which was sometimes more akin to cynicism was sadly proven to be correct, but the latter will continue, as the climate crisis only deepens for humanity. The legacy for some lands will be appalling and for many people it could be fatal. The poorest and weakest, yet also the most vulnerable, have been abandoned. Catastrophe and conflict beckon and yet the richer and developed world won’t avoid it either. The consequences will be felt by all as millions flee, and many having nothing left to lose strike out in fear and pain.

When the global legacy’s claiming you’ve kept 1.5 alive and yet it’s only just so, it’s a failure. More could and should have been done and no amount of greenwashing will change that. But what of Scotland. For sure the First Minister has plenty more photos with the great and good to put on her wall and our other national drink received promotion it could only have dreamed of. What’s the legacy left for having hosted the event?

This was an opportunity to showcase a better and cleaner way, helping locally and contributing globally. But in that Boris Johnson and the Tories failed spectacularly, matching the failure abroad with leaving nothing behind. Two issues that could have played a significant part to building a better Scotland and helping the challenges faced with cutting emissions were flunked.

Firstly, there was the failure to back the carbon capture and storage proposals for St Fergus. They may yet be dragged kicking and screaming to deliver it, but it should have been done then and there. Not only is the project better placed but with Scotland having 30% of Europe’s carbon storage capacity through the North Seas geology then it was a no-brainer. But whether through climate scepticism or prejudice they failed.

Similarly, optics for the global jamboree were awful whether through motorcades or the jets flying in and out. You’d have thought it an opportunity to announce an investment in high-speed rail. Other countries do it as a matter of course. Distances between Edinburgh/London and Barcelona/Madrid are uncannily similar, yet the formers 4hrs 20 at best and the latter 2 hrs 30. The cost differential similarly marked. Glasgow/London and Madrid/Seville likewise show a faster and cheaper link.

But instead of seeking to reduce red eye flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Tories have sought to incentivise them by reducing APD. We’re on the road to hell in a jet not hand cart, but the struggle continues.