Oct 28, 2021 07:16 PM

Opinion: As Summit Hosts, Scotland and China Can Help Tackle Twin Crises of Climate Change, Nature Loss

Photo: VCG
Photo: VCG

Scotland and China are at the center of two of the most important global summits this century.

As we prepare to welcome world leaders, international policy makers and scientists to Glasgow for the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), similar preparations are being made in Kunming for the second part of the U.N. Biodiversity Conference (COP15) next year.

The impact of both summits will be far reaching and will demand cooperation on an historic scale. The twin crises of climate change and nature loss are intertwined and must be tackled together. We need nature to mitigate climate change and nature needs us to manage climate change to avoid its collapse.

There must be no doubt, we are at a pivotal moment and collective international action is needed.

COP15 needs to ensure that actions taken by all levels of government contribute towards national and global targets for nature over the coming decade. And COP26 must mobilize the ambition, finance, resources and joint working needed to deliver on the Paris Agreement goals.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, actions which previously seemed impossible became achievable. People changed their behavior to protect themselves and each other. We now need to summon the same urgency we have shown in the face of a pandemic to safeguard our planet.

Countries and provinces of all sizes must play their part, and in Scotland we are determined to lead by example. We have more than halved our emissions from 1990 levels, and over the decade to 2030 we aim to half them again. By 2045, we are committed to achieving net zero. Across Scottish business, communities and public organizations there is a significant amount of work underway to become more sustainable and respond to the global climate emergency.

Partners in China and Scotland are working together. The China-U.K. Low Carbon College, a joint initiative of the University of Edinburgh, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Shanghai Lingang City, is focused on green development strategy.

 We have established the TUS-ORE Catapult Technology Research Centre, a leading renewable energy technology research and development hub with links to both Scotland and China. And in January, Scottish Development International signed an agreement with the Jiangsu Renewable Energy Industry Association to help facilitate partnerships between green supply chain companies.

If we are to end our contribution to climate change within a generation, this progress must continue. All of us must challenge ourselves to do more and the Scottish Government will support citizens in Scotland and globally to make these changes.

The Scottish Government is European co-chair of the Under2 Coalition, a global community of state and regional governments committed to climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. We are using this position to help deliver ambitious outcomes at COP26, and demonstrate that global climate action requires action by governments at all levels.

We are also leading a global push to ensure action is taken to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature. Alongside international partners, the Scottish Government has organized the Edinburgh Process for engagement with subnational and local governments to help develop an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Central to this, the Edinburgh Declaration is a call to recognize the role of sub-state authorities in delivering positive actions for biodiversity, to include their views in the new global biodiversity strategy to be agreed at COP15 and to ensure the effective implementation of the framework at all levels of government. To date, more than 180 national, subnational and local governments and other organizations support the Edinburgh Declaration, and this number continues to grow.

 It is important that we grasp these opportunities to deliver transformational action on climate change and biodiversity. In years to come, I hope we will speak of Glasgow and Kunming as places where the world made decisive steps towards protecting our planet.

Michael Matheson is Scotland cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport.

The views and opinions expressed in this opinion section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of Caixin Media.

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