Graeme’s Column

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Just weeks from now, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland. At the end of this month, leaders from across the world will gather in Glasgow for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

This is a critical opportunity to forge global progress on climate action and alleviate the worst effects of global warming. It is also a unique opportunity to showcase and advance Scotland’s impressive work in this area. A time to make bold new choices.

The Scottish Government’s updated Climate Change Plan contains over 100 new policies, putting us on a pathway to meet its world-leading climate targets.

£1.6 billion of investment will see the heating of a million decarbonised homes by 2030. We also aim to be generating 50% of our overall energy consumption from renewables within the decade – a key step to near full decarbonisation of Scotland’s energy system by 2050.

For my part, I have relished the opportunity I have been given as Minister for Transport to help deliver a green transport revolution – removing most fossil fuel buses from public transport by 2023 and creating a greener, more affordable railway.

Our active travel vision aims to make walking or cycling the most popular choice for shorter everyday journeys by 2030. Not only will this cut carbon emissions and other pollution, but it will make our roads quieter and safer, improve our wellbeing and support sustainable economic growth.

The picture for Scotland going into COP is a positive one, but we know this is a global task, which is why Scotland was the first country in the world to launch a dedicated Climate Justice Fund to support the global south.

We will use our role at COP to help secure an agreement that sees all countries commit to the action needed and our communities and young people will be at the heart of that action.

That is why one of the most important events in the run up to any COP summit is the Conference of Youth. It is a coming together of young people from 140 countries around the world, specifically mandated by the UN to set out their asks of world leaders.

This year, the UK Government has decided not to fund the Conference, however, we cannot allow the world’s children and young people to be silenced in Glasgow.

The Scottish Government has therefore decided to fund the Conference of Youth to in the run up to COP, so young people from Scotland can join with young people from across the globe to present their demands to the world’s leaders.

We have a key role over the next few weeks to help create a better, healthier future for everyone and we approach it with ambition and purpose.