Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson has said a new UN report confirms that the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow will be the world’s “best chance” to avert the worst destruction caused by climate change.
The SNP minister also believed the summit would be “one of our last chances” to prevent catastrophic damage.
The landmark study has confirmed that humans are unequivocally driving global warming – with impacts from heatwaves to rising seas and extreme rain already seen around the world.
The assessment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a stark picture of the impact humans are having through activities such as burning fossil fuels – and the future the world faces if it fails to rapidly tackle the crisis.
The world will reach or exceed temperature rises of 1.5C – a limit countries have pledged to try to keep to in order to avoid the most dangerous consequences of warming – over the next two decades, the report says.
Temperature rises will continue until mid century – and without fast, deep reductions in greenhouse gases will, over the course of the 21st century, exceed both the 1.5C and 2C limits set by countries in the Paris climate treaty.
Reacting to the findings on Monday morning, Mr Matheson said: “This report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the very real threat and heightened risk the climate emergency poses to the planet – but it also makes it clear that with immediate, concerted international action to reduce emissions, global temperature rise can still be limited to 1.5°C in the longer term.
“We will carefully consider the latest advice contained in the report and encourage others to do so too. We will not get many more warnings before time runs out.
“COP26 in Glasgow represents the world’s best chance – perhaps one of our last chances – to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
COP26 in Glasgow represents the world’s best chance – perhaps one of our last chances – to avert the worst impacts of climate change.”
“We must deliver on the principles of the Paris Agreement with lasting action to secure a net zero and climate resilient future in a way that is fair and just for everyone.
“We know that protecting our planet from climate change must be a truly collaborative endeavour, and networks such as the Under2 Coalition have a crucial role to play in driving forward collective climate action from governments around the world.
“As European Co-Chair of the Under2 Coalition we have a duty to ensure that states and regions play their part in the global response to the climate emergency.”
Amid criticism of aspects of Scottish Government climate policy, including ongoing support for new North Sea oil and gas exploration and development, Mr Matheson insisted the nation was “leading the way”.
He said: “We will end our contribution to climate change by 2045 at the latest, reducing emissions by 75% by 2030 along the way – a world-leading target.
“In December 2020 we updated our Climate Change Plan which sets out how we will deliver on this ambition and, last month, published an indicative Nationally Determined Contribution, outlining the actions we are taking to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“It is crucial that the international community takes this opportunity to raise global climate action and ambition. The eyes of the world will be on COP26 and on Scotland this year.
“We’ll demonstrate the climate action we are taking, the ways in which we put people and wellbeing at the heart of all we do, and how our Scottish values underpin our place in the world.”
Scottish Labour’s net zero spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “To avoid the worst-case climate scenarios, it’s vital that our governments act on the findings of the IPCC report.
“For starters, Nicola Sturgeon must loudly oppose the proposed Cambo oil field and stop hiding behind Boris Johnson, who treats climate emergency and the need for a just transition for workers and communities like a big joke.
“If we start meeting our own climate targets in Scotland, we’ll be in a better position to demand quicker progress from other governments.
“Climate emergency is the biggest challenge of our time, and that’s why Scottish Labour will continue to fight for the bold and urgent action that the public rightly expects both the UK and Scottish governments to take.”