This month, I had the enormous privilege of representing Scotland and the Scottish Government at COP26. It was a truly uplifting and motivating experience.
Of course, media coverage of the event in Glasgow understandably focused on the role of world leaders and negotiators in pursuing overarching agreements aimed at addressing the climate emergency. However, there was a whole range of engagement going on which will, without doubt, drive practical progress across the globe and at a local scale.
It was helpful to learn of best practice examples being implemented around the world – examples we can certainly adapt to assist or own efforts if not entirely reproduce.
The decarbonisation of transport is our greatest challenge. It remains our single biggest sectoral emitter. Tackling this while recovering from a pandemic which has had a significant impact on public transportation usage simply adds to the scale of that challenge. Still, we must tackle it head on.
Whilst there are predictably common elements to the difficulties facing transport minister counterparts across the world, bespoke solutions are being developed in some localities which could, in some form, be usefully replicated elsewhere. That learning experience was my biggest take away from Glasgow.
That, and the very high regard in which Scotland’s response to the crisis is held internationally. It was incredibly heartening to hear this time and again from representatives of other countries. As one leading US Senator put it to me: “You guys have a history when it comes to innovation, but the innovation you’re showing now in the decarbonisation space is inspirational”.
We have just cause to be proud of how Scotland is responding to Climate Change – though, of course, there remains much to do.