Scotland's First Minister calls for 'reset' of relationship between Holyrood and Westminster to aid action at UN climate summit in Glasgow
Nicola Sturgeon has called for an end to any "squabbles" between her government and Westminster over the plans for the COP26 Summit, as she urged all parties to work closely together on ensuring the UN conference provides a launchpad for more ambitious global climate action.
Speaking in London this afternoon, Scotland's First Minister acknowledged recent speculation that there had been tensions between the Scottish Government and Downing Street around preparations for the crucial Glasgow summit in November, but stressed it was "vital" make the event a success.
"I personally and my government are committed absolutely and unequivocally to working closely and constructively with the UK government, and with other partners, in preparing for COP26 - preparing logistically but also preparing logistically," she said at an event organised by Green Alliance on the Countdown to COP26. "It's vital that COP is a success. It's a massive opportunity. We have a duty to do everything we can to make it a success. That's certainly Scotland's interest, but it is in the interests of the UK as a whole - and most importantly of all it's in the interest of the planet."
Thousands of the world's top diplomats and hundreds of world leaders are expected to descend on Glasgow for the summit in November, with huge pressure on the UK as co-hosts to rally nations around the world to deliver more ambitious plans to meeting their Paris Agreement commitments.
But the government has failed to name a replacement COP26 President since sacking Claire O'Neill at the end of last month, and the former MP has since been fiercely critical of Downing Street's preparations for the summit. She suggested the PM does not fully appreciate the scale of diplomatic effort required to deliver a successful outcome, and called on Johnson to "consider resetting" his relationship with Sturgeon "for the sake of this vastly more important agenda".
Recent reports had also highlighted a fraught relationship between Holyrood and Number 10 over several issues, including a row over the Scottish Government reportedly booking up key facilities close to the Summit for the duration of the two-week event.
Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has apparently been less than enthused about Sturgeon having a visible role at the summit, with the UK Prime Minister reportedly making critical comments behind closed doors about his Scottish counterpart.
But while Sturgeon yesterday said she "was and am concerned about the removal of Claire O'Neill from her job" she said she had "no interest in criticising" the UK government's handling of the Summit. She also dismissed suggestions her government was deliberately hampering planning for the conference as "just ridiculous".
And, asked about "personal insults" Johnson has reportedly aimed at her, Sturgeon called for a reset in relations between Holyrood and Westminster. "We shouldn't be talking about these issues," she said. "I am absolutely willing and really keen, if there is some squabbles - let's just reset that and start again. And I'm saying it again today - that's what I want to do."
Earlier in the day Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove had similarly called for the two governments to put aside their political differences to work together to deliver a successful Summit.
Scotland's First Minister also talked up the Scottish Government's plans to invest £1.8bn in net zero infrastructure over the coming year, as part of its draft budget announced last week that aims to place tackling the climate emergency "at the heart" of its programme for government.
And she called on the UK to come forward with an enhanced plan - or NDC in UN jargon - for meeting its net zero commitments ahead of the summit. Sturgeon said a mere "copy and paste" of the government's existing carbon budget plan was "not sufficient" if the UK was to demonstrate global leadership and push other Paris Agreement signatories to do deliver more ambitious plans.
She also indicated she would be happy to lead a new 'net zero club' of ambitious governments, regions and non-state actors in order to further push for ambitious climate action at the Glasgow summit.
"We must come out of COP with a global agreement that is not just about a target agreement, but detailed plans that must at an absolute minimum meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," she said. "I don't think anybody underestimates in any sense the challenges of that."
Hundreds of major firms, including Amazon, BlackRock, and Tyson Foods, have no commitment to ending deforestation in their supply chains, Global Canopy claims
New CEO at global oil giant will step up its investment in non-oil and gas activities, but campaigners argue much more detail is required on how the company will pivot towards net zero emissions
But pensions trade body warns of 'unprecedented' government interference in climate strategies
Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures secures backing from organisations worth combined $12tr in market capitalisation