Believe in Scotland will share summaries of main parties' priorities for an independent Scotland as their proposals are released.
The Scottish Greens produced the first in a series of “green papers” setting out its vision for an independent Scotland last week, titled: "Independence: For people, for planet". The Greens are a junior member of Scotland’s government - but the “Bute House Agreement” recognises each party’s “right and duty to set out its own vision of independence”.
In an independent Scotland, of course, the Greens would set out their policies, like other parties, and put them to the people. The first booklet in the series entitled: “Independence: For People, For Planet” puts the environment and climate change front and centre of the Greens’ agenda.
Building on Green achievements
The Greens want to build on what they see as their achievements in government.
“We are tackling the climate crisis, with an active travel revolution, an unprecedented £500m Just Transition Fund and record investment to make homes warmer, greener and easier to heat. We are tackling the cost of living crisis, with the rapid rollout of free school meals, the massive expansion of the Scottish Child Payment and unprecedented action to protect tenants with the rent freeze and the eviction ban. But devolution isn’t enough.”
The Green paper argues that with “all the powers of a normal, independent country”, Scotland could achieve a lot more.
1 Funding a Just Transition
The Scottish Greens argue that an independent Scotland could be a leader on climate change. Currently, Holyrood has no power over the regulation and taxes of the oil and gas sector.
Under independence, the Scottish Greens would look to ban further fossil fuel exploration and to hasten the transition to green energy, developing capacity in renewables, the grid and energy storage technology such as pumped hydro. They also want to massively increase the effort to insulate homes. The report says:
“Only with the powers of an independent country can Scotland deliver the radical climate action we need. Currently, power over the oil and gas under Scottish waters sits at Westminster. Holyrood doesn’t have the financial powers we need to properly invest in the transformative green infrastructure we need to tackle the climate crisis.”
2 Increased environmental protection
The UK government is promising a bonfire of EU environmental protections. The Green party believes that will damage Scotland. They argue Holyrood needs the powers of independence to properly protect nature and the environment.
“With independence, Scotland can undo the damage done by Brexit deregulation and make sure Scotland is a world leader in environmental standards and protection. With a written constitution, Scotland can enshrine rights for nature in law, recognising our responsibility to look after our natural world.”
3 A European Scotland
When independent Scotland rejoins the EU, Scotland’s Greens will look to work with other green parties across Europe on shared priorities such as climate action and social justice.
“Scotland has always been a European nation. In 2016, we voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union - yet despite this, we were dragged out of the EU. With Brexit, we lost our rights to free movement and the ability to live, work and study across Europe. We lost the chance to cooperate across a continent to solve the biggest challenges we face. With independence, Scotland can rejoin the European Union and retake our place in the European family of nations”
4 A Welcoming Scotland
Scotland currently has no control over immigration. It has an ageing population with an average age of 42, two years older than England, and a low birth rate. But as part of the UK, Scotland has no say over who can come to live and work in Scotland. The Scottish Greens would like to see an independent Scotland reject the “hostile environment” created by the UK government and create its own immigration policy.
“For decades, from the Glasgow Girls to the Kenmure Street protests, people have resisted the racist tactics of successive UK Governments who sought to divide our communities and turn neighbours against one another. With independence, Scotland can end the hostile environment and build a country which is welcoming to all. Scotland can treat refugees and asylum seekers with the respect that they deserve, and we could uphold the Refugee Convention, playing our part in the global community.”
5 A fairer, happier Scotland
The Scottish Greens want to put well-being at the heart of the economy. They support replacing welfare payments with a guaranteed basic income that citizens could not fall below. They would also like to see Scotland move to a four-day working week. They also want to see wages increase.
“Scotland can shift the balance of power in our economy by taxing wealth fairly, protecting trade unions and paying workers what they deserve with a Real Living Wage for all.”
Devolution is not enough - independent Scotland could do more
The Scottish Greens want to see Scotland become one of the greenest and most climate-conscious countries in the world.
They argue that in order to create a just transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewables, independence is necessary. It is also a first step to creating a more equal society.
In this paper, the Green Party is setting out a vision for what independence could mean. It is a valuable contribution to the debate. After independence, Scotland’s people will get to decide on their government and what its priorities are.
July 27, 2022
“I have negotiated dozens of trade deals”, candidate for PM Liz Truss said in a debate on BBC TV this week.
Since Brexit, the UK has rolled over existing EU deals covering 63 countries. It is not true to say that Truss negotiated these - they were already in place, negotiated by the EU, and have simply been allowed to continue after Brexit. So far, Truss has negotiated a handful of trade deals. These are potentially very bad for Scotland - but that is not being reported fairly.
The UK government is offering open access to Scottish markets for intensive, low-welfare farmers, echoing ‘The Great Betrayal’" of the 1920s, which decimated Scottish agriculture. They have signed these deals on Scotland's behalf without consent or consultation with Scotland's elected representatives.
Promises over “safeguards” for Scottish farmers have been broken - with no scrutiny
Instead, over the last year, BBC Scotland and other Unionist media outlets have given space to vague promises that there will be safeguards for Scottish producers. But these safeguards have not materialised and that is being brushed under the carpet without scrutiny.
Truss trade deals - four not dozens
Liz Truss’ government has so far negotiated just four new trade deals, covering six countries. These are with Japan, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, Australia and New Zealand. But there are fears these are the gateway to the UK Government signing more destructive and desperate deals.
Deals with New Zealand and Australia threaten Scottish food producers
Trade deals with New Zealand and Australia will see quotas for tariff-free lamb and other produce increased sharply over the next 15 years before it becomes a tariff-free, quota-free free for all. Because Australia and New Zealand don't work to the same standards on climate, environment and welfare and because they farm more intensively that allows them to potentially undercut Scottish farmers. While the idea of cheap imports may seem attractive in the short term, in the long term it threatens to damage the Scottish food-producing sector, food security and the wider economy.
There was anger in the House of Commons last week when the UK Government forbade Parliament from discussing the terms of the Australian trade deal before it is ratified - despite an earlier promise by Liz Truss that it would face Parliamentary scrutiny.
Scottish MP Drew Hendry said the Government’s own research showed that Australia’s lower standards on deforestation, animal welfare and climate lets it produce cheaper food that will undercut Scottish produce.
The Scottish Farmer said the deal “offers nothing but pain” for Scotland’s farmers and crofters. Scottish NFU president Martin Kennedy said: “Our fears that the process adopted by the UK Government in agreeing the Australia deal would set a dangerous precedent going forward have been realised…
“This latest deal offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers and crofters in return but risks undermining our valuable lamb, beef, dairy and horticultural sectors by granting access to large volumes of imported goods. As with the Australian deal, a cap on tariff-free imports is merely a slow journey to allow NZ, a major exporter of food and drink, unfettered access to food and drink UK markets."
But Scottish food producers’ woes are not being reported by the mainstream UK media.
A clip of New Zealand TV contrasted the reaction of “jubilant Kiwi farmers” with the despair of those facing unfair competition from producers meeting lower environmental and welfare standards has been widely shared on social media.
People find it hard to believe that the NZ media is offering more coverage of the downside of the deal than the UK. It said: “The deal will see Kiwi meat imported without tariffs, and UK farmers say they get nothing in return. They fear it will change their businesses dramatically.’ UK farmers told the news show that they feel as if they are the “sacrificial lambs” of the deal.
Sustainable business advisor Brendan May commented: “New Zealand television is completely mystified by the amazing Brexit trade deal Liz Truss keeps boasting about. They can’t understand why she would want to make British farmers poorer and theirs richer. Even the winning side can’t fathom it.”
The deals echo ‘the great betrayal” of the 1920s which decimated Scottish agriculture
Those with a knowledge of Scottish history will remember “the great betrayal” of 1921 when the UK Government abandoned support for agriculture and fishing - believing it could be replaced by cheap imports from the Empire. In the following decade, food production collapsed and Scotland lost 8% of its population (compared to 5% in England) due to emigration by desperate people, many of whom simply abandoned their crofts and farms.
Scottish agriculture is already a big loser from Brexit - it is gradually losing EU funding from the Common Agricultural Policy, which moves some of the cost of food production from the consumer to the tax payer. The UK’s replacement scheme will be far less generous. The loss of easy access to EU markets, and the end of free movement of labour is also damaging Scotland’s food producers.
The Scottish Government has criticised the UK Government’s level of engagement with the devolved governments. There has been no consultation on the negotiation process, nor on the crucial detail about tariffs and goods market access on any of the deals which the UK government has negotiated.
Unlike Quebec, which is able to scrutinise and ratify Canada’s international trade deals, Scotland has no voice. The Internal Markets Act means the UK government can make any deal it likes in Scotland’s name, without consultation or consent.
Scotland is being let down by the media which is failing to report both sides of the story
The media is supposed to serve the people - but Scotland’s Unionist media is failing to report on the people who are being harmed by these trade deals, to scrutinise politicians’ promises, or to consider the potential for long-term harm to Scotland's interests.
Michael Glackin in the Sunday Times says the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed UK energy security. The answer, he says, is to drill for more oil and gas, frack and build nuclear power plants.
He’s palpably excited about Boris’ new ‘energy supply strategy’ but when have the Conservatives ever come up with a strategy that benefited Scotland and not the City of London? Successive Westminster Governments of both colours have been reckless with the nation’s energy resources, having sold them off to the highest bidder decades ago to enrich private corporations and shareholders, and is the reason the UK has no energy security today. And the oil and gas the UK Government privatised belonged to Scotland, as does the vast majority of this island’s offshore wind, wave and tidal potential. Nations like France and Norway were wiser, keeping control of their strategic energy resources so that today their governments are able to shield their citizens from the obscene profiteering by oil and gas companies, many of whom offshore their profits to avoid paying the full amount of tax owed on their operations here.
Will Boris’ ‘energy supply strategy’ reinstate oil taxes the UK Government cut to zero in 2015, foregoing tens of billions in revenue and making the UK the most profitable place not only for Russian oligarchs to launder their money but also for Big Oil to operate? Doubtful. And you can forget fracking if you care at all for the environment. The US has discovered to its cost that fracking causes earthquakes and contaminates groundwater.
As for nuclear power, not only does Scotland not need it but also there are two big problems. There is no way to safely dispose of toxic nuclear waste. MPs have warned that the UK is storing an “extraordinary accumulation” of this hazardous waste in “outdated facilities” that will cost £70 billion to clean up. So it is a deal breaker, Mr. Glackin. Nuclear power is also uneconomic. A recent German study of nuclear power plants constructed around the world since 1951 found the average plant made a loss of 4.8 billion Euros. Small modular reactors (SMRs) like the ones Rolls Royce is pushing, won’t save the day. There’s just one SMR operating and it’s in Russia. The two SMRs in Wales and Cumbria have been mothballed. Because nuclear power is so expensive, not even private companies are willing to stick their necks out to finance these plants. That’s why the UK Government is forcing consumers to pay for the upfront costs of nuclear power plants with its Nuclear Energy Financing Bill. The number of politicians with commercial ties to the nuclear power industry may also explain the UK’s eagerness to have consumers bankroll this dangerous energy source.
Renewables are by far the cheapest, most abundant and cleanest source of energy. Even before the war in Ukraine, global oil and gas prices were higher than renewables and the price of wind, tidal and wave power hasn’t changed. Renewables generate nearly 100% of Scotland’s electricity and there’s capacity to develop far more, which England is going to need. Renewables projects can be developed quickly and are six times cheaper than gas generation. Yet the UK’s privatised Ofgem has stymied new renewables projects by its absurd charging regime whereby Scottish generators pay £7.36/MWh to connect to the grid but their English and Welsh counterparts pay just £0.49, and generators in southern England get a subsidy!
There’s also the small matter of cataclysmic climate change. Last month’s IPPC report excoriated the world’s governments for acting in a fragmented and incremental manner when transformational changes are needed to safeguard human wellbeing. If we fail to reduce emissions, the Ukrainian refugee crisis will be dwarfed by the exodus of people around the globe desperate to escape rising sea levels, devastating heat waves, wildfires, lack of food and water, illness and trauma from natural disasters. Increasing oil and gas production will only accelerate humanity’s suicide.
The facts are, Mr. Glackin, that Scotland doesn’t need a UK energy strategy that subsidises Big Oil and nuclear power. What Scotland needs is to restore its independence so it can forge its own energy strategy and provide its citizens with security, safety, affordability, jobs and a more sustainable and hopeful future.
Brian Wilson is right that gas and electricity are natural monopolies and at least some of that belongs in state, not private, hands. There are great examples across Europe of publicly owned and partially publicly owned energy companies, often working in parallel with public sector providers.
However, when serving as UK energy minister in Blair’s Labour government, he had his chance to bring British Gas and Britoil back into public ownership but didn’t.
On top of this, the Labour Government chose not to renationalise the National Grid, privatised by the Tories in 1990, but approved Ofgem’s 2003 grid transmission charges that penalised Scottish renewable providers and landed Scots with the highest transmission charges not only in the UK but in Europe. In the north of Scotland, charges are £7.36 per MWh but only £.49 in England and Wales.
This is especially galling since Scotland possesses a quarter of Europe’s wind resources and 60% of the UK’s offshore wind capacity.
And Mr. Wilson has nothing to say about Starmer’s reneging on Labour’s pledge to renationalise the Big Six energy companies, despite last autumn’s overwhelming party conference vote to take energy back into public ownership and Sir Keir’s own leadership campaign promises to do the same.
It’s clear that Labour would rather pacify private energy companies and their shareholders rather than ease the misery of millions facing ruinous energy bills.
So long as Scotland remains a UK region, its vast renewable resources won’t be harnessed for Scotland’s benefit but, like our oil and gas, will be sold off to private companies with the proceeds squandered on tax cuts for the wealthy and UK debt servicing.
For Scotland to have a state-owned energy company, as Brian Wilson says he wants, it must first become a state. The investment needed over several years isn’t possible with the limited borrowing and capital investment powers of a devolved region of the UK. Wilson should know that, which exposes the incoherence and or dishonesty of Labour's opposition to Scottish independence.
Restoring Scottish sovereignty is the only way out of this quagmire.
The headlines are dominated by the soaring price of energy that will impact all UK citizens, especially those who are already struggling to survive. Even before the current crisis, over 3 million households were having to choose between heating and eating.
What they are not telling us is that across the Channel, it’s a different story. French President Macron just ordered EDF, the state energy company, to cap electricity prices at 4% to shield consumers. He can do this because the state owns 80% of the shares in the company that supplies the majority of power to French consumers.
Contrast that with the UK. Since the 1980s the government has sold off our energy resources (as well as the national grid, water, rail, buses, ports, and telecoms) to private companies. EDF is one of the foreign companies that bought a chunk and now owns over 10% of UK electricity production. Another 30% is owned by German, Spanish and Dutch companies.
Privatisation of our national assets has been a colossal failure for consumers and the environment, but a huge boon to private shareholders and company CEOs. Oil and gas giants BP and Shell are expected to announce huge increases in gas revenue that is boosted further by paying zero taxes for the past 3 years. Bernard Looney, BP chief executive who received £1.75 million last year, crowed the company is a “cash machine.”
As a result, UK consumers are looking at increases of 50% once the price cap is lifted in April. Ofgem, the energy regulator, must by law pass on rising costs to consumers.
This will be especially painful for Scottish consumers who already pay the highest transmission charges in the UK while England and Wales are subsidised. Plus, with just 8% of the population, Scotland produces 82% of total UK gas. What would this gas be worth if Scotland had control over its own energy resources? At least £22.5 billion, the sales value of Scottish oil and gas production in 2019.
And London tells Scotland it’s too wee and too poor to go it alone. One need only to look to Norway. It has channelled its oil and gas revenues into the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund that is now being used to fund a renewables revolution. Independence can’t come soon enough.
For the last few weeks the media has been transfixed by a series of sensational easy headline stories - 'partygate', Douglas Ross being outed as a lightweight, Prince Andrew losing his titles and court battle - and it's hard to blame them. However they have, for the most part, taken their eye off the ball when it comes to the Nuclear Energy Financing bill, which had its final Westminster reading last Monday. If passed, which is likely, it will shift billions of pounds of additional costs onto consumers and force millions more into fuel poverty.
Sixteen years ago the Scottish Labour administration in Holyrood spurned the oportunity to construct any new nuclear power stations not only because they take years to construct and cost the earth, but also because they are dangerous. There is no safe way to dispose of toxic nuclear waste. Sellafield is officially the "most hazardous industrial building in western Europe". As a result, Scotland's Government, then and now, put its efforts into renewables, which currently supply nearly all our electricity.
Labour has since changed its tune. Brian Wilson, former UK Energy Minister and chair of the Scottish Energy Transition Commission, is Scottish Labour’s nuclear cheerleader. He’s also non-executive director of AMEC Nuclear Holdings Ltd, the UK’s largest nuclear services business.
Nuclear construction costs far exceed those of renewables and electricity generation is twice as expensive. The price for nuclear energy is £106/MWh, double the wholesale market price, whereas offshore wind power is £36.95/MWh. The Westminster bill will force consumers to finance this risky, costly and dangerous industry by buying more expensive nuclear electricity, just as household energy bills are soaring and casting more families into fuel poverty.
Investment in renewables also creates more jobs. The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources found that “renewable electricity can stimulate six times higher long-term employment impact than an equally sized increase in nuclear electricity.”
Scotland’s future lies in developing its vast renewable energy potential, not following Labour and the Tories down the nuclear rabbit hole. Energy policy is reserved to Westminster - another compelling reason to restore our independence.
Planting trees to offset your carbon footprint is easier than you might think and it’s just one of the ways we can all make our own contribution to combatting climate change. You can find Believe in Scotland’s Corporate Grove here.
Back in November, Scotland, specifically Glasgow, hosted COP26. At the end of the conference some progress was announced to great fanfare. However, in our opinion the underwhelming progress announced amounted smoke and mirrors rather than the radical change we require.
We sincerely hope that an independent Scotland will lead the way in showing the world how to address environmental wellbeing. Indeed, according to a new report on energy production in 2022 Scotland generated 98% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources. 32,031.2 GWh - approximately 24% of the UK’s renewable energy total despite possessing only 8% of the UK’s population.
As we campaign, we are very much aware of our carbon footprint. In 2021 Business for Scotland and Believe in Scotland distributed almost 2 million items of campaign materials throughout Scotland. That included 850,000 leaflets, 60,000 copies of a 24-page newspaper and 1million copies of an 8-page newspaper, as well as tens of thousands of campaign materials such as books and badges. To top it all off hundreds and sometimes thousands of mugs, postcards, and canvasses were also purchased several hundred billboards (although those were mostly electronic).
Unable to use recycled paper across the board, all of our paper materials including our Scotland the Brief books have been registered with carbon offsetting schemes. Our 1,060,000 newspapers were also printed on 100% recycled paper, but we want to go further - further than just carbon neutral, we want our campaign to be significantly CARBON POSITIVE - so we have set up the Believe in Scotland Grove.
Every month we will plant new trees to make our campaigning activity carbon positive. We also want to make sure that the trees planted were actually in Scotland, so we have decided to support Trees for Life to plant and pay for new trees and helping to reforest Scotland's amazing natural landscape.
We believe this will assist in helping to alleviate the impact of climate change on the planet and grow new habitats for rare insects, animals, and plant life boosting Scotland’s biodiversity. If you would like to help us, or to offset some of your own carbon footprint, go to our Corporate Grove, and click “Add to the Grove” and donate a tree for just £6.00 to Believe in Scotland's Grove as a one-off, or by setting up a regular direct debit.
You can calculate your own carbon footprint using various online calculators - WWF provide just one of them and you can offset your carbon by adding trees to our Grove. Trees for Life calculates 6 trees offset 1 tonne of CO2. So 1 Tree = 0.16 tonnes CO2.
Your tree(s) will help to rewild the Caledonian Forest, a rich habitat found only in the Scottish Highlands. It will be a sapling grown from locally collected seed and will be one of a number of species planted such as Scots Pine, Willow, Birch, Rowan, Hazel, Alder, Holly, Aspen and Bird Cherry. The Believe in Scotland grove will be planted at one of Trees for Life’s remote sites in the Scottish Highlands. Trees for Life plants in remote areas best suited to the return of the Caledonian Forest such as on their conservation estate, Dundreggan, situated near Loch Ness, and Glen Affric National Nature Reserve. Believe in Scotland is also seeking to sponsor peat bog restoration projects which can be up-to 10 times more efficient at carbon capture than planting trees.
Believe in Scotland is a campaign to create a better, fairer greener, healthier, and happier Scotland. We wish to replace the outdated tired old ideas of left and right tribalism in politics with an enlightened Wellbeing led socioeconomic approach to policy and we believe this requires the full powers of independence for Scotland.
You can also become a Believe in Scotland member and support our campaign - Join us.
Offshore wind resources in the North Sea will create thousands of jobs and boost Scotland ‘s ambitions to be a world leader in renewable energy through a plan unveiled at COP 26 in Glasgow.
The Northern Horizons Project will use floating offshore wind turbines to produce green hydrogen which could fuel vehicles or be used in fuel cells to generate electricity during times of the day when the wind resource is low.
Norway’s Aker Offshore Wind, Aker Clean Hydrogen and DNV, consultants who are leading experts in the transition to a hydrogen-based economy, are behind the project, which they say is ‘a technically and economically feasible plan’.
It is described as a ‘response to the Scottish government’s stated ambition to develop Scotland’s potential to export significant quantities of hydrogen’.
The government is targeting 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 and is actively looking for international collaboration in the development of a shared hydrogen economy.
This project could start production from 2030 and will ‘create thousands of jobs and the investment of billions of pounds during construction and operation’.
Sian Lloyd-Rees, managing director of Aker Offshore Wind UK, said: “This is a technically and economically feasible plan to deliver floating offshore wind at the scale needed to deliver clean energy products which can be used to help decarbonize fuel-heavy industries such as shipping and aviation."
I am proud that DNV has worked on this project that really does show a profitable business opportunity whilst contributing greatly to net zero targets
Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV, said: “To meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the world needs to transition faster to a deeply decarbonized energy system.
"I am proud that DNV has worked on this project that really does show a profitable business opportunity creating economic growth and new job opportunities, whilst contributing greatly to the UK’s net zero targets."
The project will use floating offshore wind turbines to produce 10GW of energy to power multiple floating installations which will produce green hydrogen which will be transmitted to a net zero hydrogen refinery on Shetland.
Some observers have said COP 26 has seen more announcements that expected on agreements to reduce carbon emissions. Pete Betts, the former EU lead negotiator on climate change, told the BBC: ‘The mood of the conference is good. The trend towards a zero-carbon world is irreversible. The question is when we get there, and what the climate will be like by then."
Not everyone is as optimistic. Prominent climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg walked out of a panel discussion with former governor of the Bank of England and UN climate envoy Mark Carney shouting “this is greenwashing” .
She has denounced the COP26 summit in Glasgow for being the ‘most excluding COP ever’ and called the international conference a ‘greenwash festival’.
Ms Thunberg will join a climate protest march in Glasgow today when thousands of young people are expected to join the event, organised by Fridays for Future Scotland.
Many pupils are expected to strike from school to take part and Ms Thunberg has also urged Glasgow cleansing department workers on strike over pay to join the march.
The march will end at George Square in the city where Ms Thunberg is expected to speak, along with Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate and other youth activists from around the world.
Scotland’s role in the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow has been strengthened by the backlash to reports that the UK government was working to sideline First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the event.
Messages have been leaked from advisers from No 10 and the Westminster Cabinet Office outlining their plan to downplay Ms Sturgeon's role at the historic climate change conference in November. Their fears that the event, which will focus world attention on the climate crisis, will become an ‘advert’ for independence have been made to look petty and ridiculous.
The revelations coincide with what has been called a ‘fortnight of showdowns’ the UK government faces with peers over its post-Brexit green protections widely derided as being too weak.
The notes also reveal a determined effort to ensure that the Union flag is displayed as much as possible at the summit
The advisers’ messages suggest that Boris Johnson should "neutralise" the First Minster by not sharing a platform with her at the event and including other devolved leaders where possible . One message referred to Sturgeon and said: "This can be labelled as a role for her [as one of the UK's leaders] but avoids her taking centre stage."
Another said: "We can't let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign." The notes also reveal a determined effort to ensure that the Union flag is displayed as much as possible at the summit.
The irony of the UK government’s messages will not be lost on observers. While complaining about the First Minister’s ‘obsession’ with independence they suggest that public statements tied to the summit should focus on Glasgow as a city in the UK, and that mentions of Scotland should refer to its place within the United Kingdom wherever possible.
The First Minister responded on social media, tweeting: "All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
"We must work together and maximise contributions towards that. Anyone – me or PM – who allowed politics to get in way would be abdicating that responsibility."
A UK government spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has been clear that there is a role for all the First Ministers from across the UK at COP26 and we are working together with the Scottish Government to ensure this crucial summit is a success." Which is not exactly a denial of the story.
There was no mention of Boris Johnson’s previously revealed statement that he ‘didn’t mind seeing a Saltire or two on that summit, but I want to see a Union flag – I don’t want to see Nicola Sturgeon anywhere near it."
The Prime Minister refused to meet the First Minister to discuss COP26 during his ill-fated trip to Scotland last month. Reports now suggest this was a deliberate decision as part of the wider effort to frame COP26 and green investment as a “UK win”.
The UK government is now facing tough challenges to its post-Brexit green protections. An alliance of crossbench and opposition peers has tabled more than 100 amendments to the environment bill in an attempt to beef up protections for nature, air quality and water standards and give the new green watchdog more powers.
UK ministers may be in the position of arguing in favour of reduced domestic environmental standards while trying to claim a global leadership role before the Glasgow climate conference.
They are also in an embarrassing position as more than 200 health journals worldwide today publish an editorial calling on world leaders to take emergency action on climate change and protect health.
The British Medical Journal said it is the first time so many journals have come together to make the same statement. The editorial says that ahead of COP26 “we – the editors of health journals worldwide – call for urgent action to keep average global temperature increases below 1.5C, halt the destruction of nature, and protect health.
The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C and to restore nature
“The science is unequivocal; a global increase of 1.5C above the pre-industrial average and the continued loss of biodiversity risk catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.’
It adds: “The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C and to restore nature. Urgent, society-wide changes must be made and will lead to a fairer and healthier world.'
Dr Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the BMJ and one of the co-authors of the editorial, said: “Health professionals have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis and they are united in warning that going above 1.5C and allowing the continued destruction of nature will bring the next, far deadlier crisis.’
The eyes of the world will be on Scotland when one of the most important conferences in history takes place in Glasgow at the beginning of November. COP 26 looks likely to be the biggest major international discussion on climate change before the door closes forever on reversing some of its worst effects.
The conference in Glasgow will be remembered forever as the event which saved the world or condemned it to suffer from irreversible global heating.
It takes place after the Scottish Greens became the first Green party to be in government anywhere in the UK as they today announced a power sharing partnership with the SNP in the Scottish parliament. Two Green MSPs will be appointed as junior ministers.
Here are some of the big questions about the conference, what it will discuss and what it’s likely to achieve.
Who is attending?
There were originally 30,000 delegates expected to arrive in Glasgow for the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, described as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg ... heading to Glasgow
That 30,000 is now expected to reduce to around 20,000. Some events have been moved online due to the pandemic.
There are 196 ‘Parties’ to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) who will be represented at Glasgow and will negotiate and make decisions at the event on action to reduce global warming and reverse some of its effects.
Key Covid travel restrictions will be relaxed for delegates, who have also been offered vaccines. World leaders expected to attend include US president Joe Biden and, if his health allows, Pope Francis. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg has also said she will attend, after initially refusing to go because the uneven roll out of global vaccinations would have left some countries unable to be represented. The offer of vaccinations to delegates prompted her change of heart.
Could COP26 really save the world?
There’s little doubt now that climate change is threatening the future of the planet. A landmark study recently warned of extreme heatwaves, droughts and floods because of global warming.
The results of that warming can be seen in western Germany, where about 200 people died in floods, the Henan province in central China, where at least 50 have died and about 400,000 have been evacuated after overwhelming downpours, western Canada and the US, where heatwaves have caused wildfires, and the Middle East, where drought afflicts communities from Algeria to Yemen. UN Secretary General António Guterres described the report as ‘a code red for humanity’.
The report suggests there is still time to avoid catastrophe ... but it is running out fast. Mr Guterres said: 'There is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success."
The report also confirms that the warming of the atmosphere, oceans and land has been the result of what it describes as ‘human influence’.
It remains to be seen if Scotland goes down in history as the host nation of an event which sees governments finally rise to the challenge.
Does Boris Johnson take climate change seriously?
The Prime Minister’s record on climate change is shockingly bad. His pledge to cut UK carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels has been widely condemned as inadequate. Environmental campaigners have accused the government of failing to show a lead.
Campaigners Extinction Rebellion (XR) has said that from Monday it will stage protest events in London for two weeks, blocking roads and occupying buildings to disrupt the City and what XR calls “the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis – the political economy”.
Boris Johnson joked that 20 years ago people warned that “wind turbines couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding”. In fact he himself wrote that phrase in the Daily Telegraph
Boris Johnson has had difficulty in taking the climate change seriously. In December 2015 he said the unusually hot weather had nothing to do with global warming. He wrote in his Telegraph column: ‘There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming.”
He recently joked that 20 years ago, people warned that “wind turbines couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding”. In fact he himself wrote that phrase in the Daily Telegraph in 2001.
More recently, in April he addressed world leaders at a virtual summit and made the bizarre statement: "It's vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging.’ And, of course, there was his now infamous ‘wisecrack’ about the ‘green benefits’ of Margaret Thatcher’s attack on mining communities.
The Scottish government has set itself a legal target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045. That is five years ahead of the date set for the UK as a whole
Is Scotland’s record any better?
Luckily it is. Scotland was the first country to declare a climate emergency, in April 2019. The Scottish government has set itself a legal target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045. That is five years ahead of the date set for the UK as a whole.
Scotland produced enough electricity through renewables to meet 97% of its demand for electricity. That puts it into the top three European countries producing electricity from renewables, alongside Norway and Iceland.
It produces more than Sweden, Denmark and Germany and well ahead of the UK as a whole, which produces 35% of its energy from renewable sources.